The PWR BTTM debacle demonstrates why queer politics don’t protect women

After multiple allegations of sexual assault and harassment, PWR BTTM band member, Ben Hopkins, is being held to account by fans as well as the music industry.

Liv Bruce and Ben Hopkins (Image: Twitter/@PWRBTTMBAND)

New York queer punk music duo PWR BTTM, a vowel-less take on “power bottom” (Google that term, if you like), have become the center of controversy, due to multiple allegations of sexual assault levied against guitarist and drummer Ben Hopkins.

On May 4th, Vice dubbed the group, who identify as “queer, non-binary, and transfeminine,” “America’s next great rock band.” One week later, on May 11th, Kitty Cordero-Kolin, a member of the DIY scene in Chicago, posted in a closed Facebook group, alleging that Hopkins had been seen initiating “inappropriate sexual contact with people despite several ‘nos’ and without warning or consent” at shows. This initial post was shared on Reddit, so the story spread, prompting swathes of PWR BTTM fans to come forward, accusing Hopkins of abuse, sexual harassment, preying on minors, and using misogynist slurs. One woman, referred to as “Jen,” told Jezebel that Hopkins raped her after a PWR BTTM show last year.

The swiftness and enormity of PWR BTTM’s subsequent fall from grace cannot be overstated. A week after the allegations came out, the band was dropped by their label, Polyvinyl Records; by their management company, Salty Artist Management; and by streaming services, including Apple Music and iTunes. Support acts pulled out of tour dates. PWR BTTM’s first album launch in Brooklyn was aborted, and all performances have been cancelled for the foreseeable future. Hopkins, who uses gender-neutral pronouns (“they/them/their”), has denied the allegations, claiming that he perceived the encounter with “Jen” to be wholly consensual.

 

Cordero-Kolin’s post states, “Almost every single one of Ben’s victims is queer.” It’s not immediately obvious why this is relevant, but one can surmise that Hopkins’ conduct is seen as a wider attack on the queer scene itself, as the allegations undermine the professed ethics and politics queerness signifies.

Queerness is supposed to represent the antithesis of the kind of behaviour Hopkins is alleged to have engaged in. While “queer” once described marginal or “othered” sexualities, today it is understood to be little more than an identity, with no concrete relation to practice. In other words, queer identity demands nothing more than “queer” identification, and can be embodied through superficial “expressions” like fashion and makeup. When not posing next to swastikas on the beach, Hopkins used glitter, eyeliner, and vintage dresses to demonstrate an understanding of and adherence to queer ideals, to illustrate a rejection of “toxic masculinity” and the gender norms socially ascribed to males.

But wearing flowery dresses and lip gloss does not necessarily lead to an actual rejection of the male entitlement and male dominance of men under patriarchy. By centering self-defined identities, individual expression, and performativity, instead of scrutinizing male violence and unequal systems of power, queer discourse has allowed misogyny easy access to the party.

Little has been made of the fact that all of Hopkins victims are discernibly female. Male on female sexual coercion is hardly transgressive and appears to have defined the relations between Hopkins and the fans he harassed and abused (perhaps someone should chastise Hopkins for this display of biological essentialism!) A man in a dress and makeup, as anyone who is familiar with 70s and 80s music is aware, is also decidedly lacking in novelty. Were such superficial choices really expected to overturn systems of power that have defined society for centuries? (It didn’t work for Bowie, after all.)

The shocked response to the allegations against Hopkins is at least in part due to PWR BTTM’s queer aesthetic, bound up with their queer politics. The appeal of bands like PWR BTTM is similar to the appeal of gay nightclubs in the 90s and 2000s. These spaces were anti-heteronormative because they were not designed to cater to heterosexuality, meaning that those at the bottom of the patriarchal hierarchy were more likely to feel safe or liberated in these spaces. These were places where women and sexual minorities could drink and dance without experiencing the kind of male harassment that is so common in straight bars. Today, as gay clubs close down and lesbian spaces are eradicated, the queer scene advertises a similar “safe community.” But these “queer” spaces are not organized according to categories of sex or even sexuality. Because they are based on self-proclaimed ideals and abstract, “fluid” personal identities, there is no way to guarantee these spaces will be any different than any other. It turns out that gender-neutral pronouns, makeup, and glitter don’t address sex-based oppression.

In November, one reviewer praised PWR BTTM for “eschewing the masculinity that comes with tired bro-rock,” and earlier this month, NPR described their songs as “a powerful re-imagining of what it means to exist within or outside contemporary notions of gender and sexuality.” But while the band wants to be seen as rebelling against gender and sexual norms, they’ve done so in a wholly superficial way — via clothes, makeup, and pronoun demands. Adopting a personal style that signals “alternative” in this way is something anyone can do — all an individual has to do is purchase certain commodities and adopt the codes and language of the social scene. But it’s far more difficult to change our actual behaviour, ethics, feelings, and reactions — which is how PWR BTTM fucked up on record.

In their initial response, published on May 11th, Hopkins and bandmate Liv Bruce deny the allegations and detail their “surprise.” On May 18th, an expanded response was published, wherein Hopkins deployed tired tropes of an abuser attempting damage control. He presented himself as a bewildered lamb, signalling a swift role reversal from sexual aggressor to victim: “What has transpired over the past several days has been emotionally overwhelming and difficult to comprehend.” I bet. Hopkins likely believed he would never be exposed. Reaching for the values he claims to hold so dear, as a member of the “queer community,” he writes, “This allegation was devastating to me as it is contrary to the intentional way I seek to interact with those around me.” In an effort to take control of the narrative, Hopkins expounds upon his own personal experience:

“As I digested the allegations, I tried to figure out who the individual might be so that I could try to reconcile what I had read with my memory of any particular sexual interaction. I’ve waited to respond to the Jezebel article because the statements made about me by the anonymous source did not line up with any sexual experience I have ever had.”

People are not only upset at the allegations against Hopkins, but that his bandmate feigned surprise, when in fact “Jen” had confided in Bruce already. After being called out on this, Bruce claimed to have not taken action because the victim asked for confidentiality. Of course, refusing to play in a queer punk band with an abusive man would not have compromised confidentiality, but Bruce declined to do this.

It’s worth acknowledging that, in this case, both musicians were held to account — one for his actions and the other for inaction. I do not for a second think that misogyny or male violence is less prevalent or less tolerated in queer circles, but in this case, it does seem that sexual assault is being treated with the seriousness it deserves. That is comparatively exceptional if we consider the vast array of male musicians who have gotten away with sexual abuse of women and girls, from R. Kelly to Jimmy Page to Chuck Berry.

PWR BTTM’s response crystallizes a problem at the heart of modern gender politics, wherein language and personal experience are given precedence over material and systemic reality. Hopkins apologizes for “making anyone feel uncomfortable,” but goes on to say that the allegations “directly conflict with my experience,” implying that the woman is lying. As though emphasizing his experience can retroactively determine reality and that if he doesn’t believe or feel like anything unethical happened, it didn’t. After saying all this, Hopkins adds, “That being said, in keeping with my commitment to my principles, I believe it is my responsibility to be accountable to this individual’s perspective and to honor it accordingly.” This statement seems to contradict his previous comments. Hopkins appears to only be going through the “correct” motions in order to remain within his chosen social group and maintain social cache. Claiming to honour someone’s perspective while privileging your experience and implying they are lying does not equate to “accountability,” nor does it honour the alleged victim’s perspective.

This controversy shows that we must look beyond identity politics for resolution. Personal experiences are not universal and do not necessarily determine truth or change material reality. Hopkins’s claims — whether it be his allegiance to queerness or that he never sexually assaulted anyone — must be analyzed within a larger system of gendered power relations. It is no coincidence that a male has serially abused female admirers — gender socialization teaches men that they have the right to access female bodies. Because gender is what naturalizes that male dominance and entitlement, gender non-conformity actually means pushing back against gendered power relations in concrete ways.

No matter what labels they take on, no matter how many dresses they wear, PWR BTTM are not, in fact, gender non-conforming.

Only through looking at violence and abuse as systemic can we make sense of the PWR BTTM debacle. A man who understands himself to be “queer,” who is invested in the notion and performance of gender as “expression,” should be defined by his interactions with women, not his sparkly blusher.

Jen Izaakson is a PhD student at Kingston University’s Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy (CRMEP), researching gender and Freud. You can find her on Twitter @isacsohn and read more of her work at jenizaakson.wordpress.com.  

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  • Kymani Fabrice Arceneaux

    If power bttm isnt heteronormative i dont know what is…

    • OldPolarBear

      Even leaving S&M aside, I think a lot of people would be amazed if they thought about and realized how heteronormative gay (male)* life, socialization, culture, etc. really are. It was that way 40-odd years ago when I was first coming out, and if popular culture is any indication, I’d say it hasn’t changed. I’ve watched scores of gay films over the years. Many of them are positive in many ways, and I’m glad they exist and have enjoyed many of them. But they are rife with a fixation on “top” and “bottom” roles and the idea of penile penetrative fucking being the ultimate or only kind of “real” sex.

      *Not qualified to speak of this WRT lesbians, because I’m not one! 😉

      • calabasa

        From what I’ve read/heard from lesbian friends, heteronormativity is also rife within the lesbian world, unfortunately. There is a lot of focus on “butch” and “femme,” and what to expect of the more masculine and more feminine partners, sexually, in terms of their roles/what they do (as well as their roles within the relationship); I’ve heard there’s also a fair amount of BDSM in the lesbian scene. This may be anecdotal, but it’s what I’ve heard. (Anyone who knows willing to chime in)?

        I don’t think anyone escapes heteronormativity, unfortunately. It’s ye olde gender roles thing again.

        • edgySF

          As a lifelong lesbian, I am attracted to masculine energy in a woman. And some women are just the opposite, and are attracted to “lipstick lesbians.” I guess I’m a tomboy femme who leans femme, that usually pairs with other tomboy femmes who lean tomboy. I don’t consider that “heteronormative”…

    • Cathy Brennan

      Power bottom is a gay male term, as far as I know. I would suggest this band’s name is ironic in the queer hipster way. And, of course, when you dig deeper, homophobic, since a male person who has sex with females is not gay, not matter how trans-feminine he is.

  • Hekate Jayne

    Has ever, in the history of ever, even once, has any male ever admitted to committing rape? Anyone?

    They are like children. It’s like it never happens because males say it never happened. Period. End of story. Thus speaketh the lying males.

    • calabasa

      Well, this probably sounds crazy, but I was so angry with my ex-boyfriend (the left-wing “activist,” “sensitive writer,” “feminist,” “scholar, academic, professor,” who was actually, it turns out, a narcissist and a serial abuser of women) for raping me after we broke up (after he broke up with me–I mean really, how can a man feel rejected when he’s rejected himself?) that I badgered him about it for quite some time. I was REALLY angry, and really traumatized (I had opened up to him about a prior history of experiencing sexual assault, and he had been very supportive). He admitted to quite a few things (he admitted to becoming sexually abusive toward me just before we broke up, he admitted remembering agreeing to abide by a particular sexual boundary I made–the boundary he later violated; he even admitted to not asking my consent for what he did after our breakup, although he did not admit to hearing me tell him to stop, and to responding to that by holding me down and immobilizing me so he could continue). After these various admissions, he immediately contradicted himself and retracted his confessions. He refused to outright admit to the rape in writing (and kept trying to get me to see him so we could “talk about it” which, of course, actually meant see him so he could try to sleep with me). Until the other day, I hadn’t seen him, talked to him or heard from him in a while (the last time was when he came to the “Take Back the Night” rally in my city, and came and stood right behind me in the crowd, which was unsettling, to say the least; that was at least seven months after the time I’d seen him before that).

      He got in touch with me again the other day, because I’d warned someone about him (to stay away from him). If he emails me it goes to Spam, but I check my Spam folder sometimes, and I saw he’d emailed me about my “accusations.” I shouldn’t have responded, but I did (for the first time actually getting really angry with him and calling him what I never have, but which he has accused me of saying to him before: a piece of shit). He responded by asking me to get back together with him. (“Can’t we go back to how much we meant to each other, and how much we loved each other, before all of this?”) He begged me to see him, saying he urgently wanted to meet up with me and talk with me, and finally talk this thing through with me. I didn’t reply.

      Finally I got back to him and said, “Can you handle me crying about the fact that you raped me? Because that’s what would happen.” And he immediately responded, “Yes.”

      I see that as pretty much a written confession, don’t you? I wonder if it would hold up in court.

      So, men might admit to rape if they think it can get them access to their victims again.

      No, I won’t go see him. I have no idea if he’s feeling regret for ruining a relationship with someone he actually loved–I mean, as much as he can love–or feeling real remorse (unlikely), or if he wants to rekindle an abusive relationship with me (see if I would be willing to go back to someone who has abused and raped me), gaslight me some more about how we “both hurt each other,” if he wants to rape me again, or if he wants to kill me. I have absolutely no idea what he’s thinking or what he wants, except that it isn’t anything good. I was trying to do this other woman a favor by warning her, as she’s a friend of a friend, and I’d rather any woman spare herself from getting involved with him. As I knew her (at least by proxy) I felt some duty to warn her.

      I was shocked he answered yes to that question. (It did make me cry, actually…such a direct yes. I have been diagnosed with PTSD after what he did to me last year, and have gone through a lot of shock, horror, torment, severe psychological pain, physiological symptoms–flashbacks, panic attacks, nightmares, social withdrawal–and finally rather severe depression after the more immediate sense of horror wore off). I was really shocked he said yes to that. Although it was not a real admission of rape, and only in the service of getting something he wants, it was as close to a direct admission as I’ve ever gotten from anyone.

      But as to other men?…No other man has ever admitted what he did to me, personally, and no man I know has ever admitted to victimizing a woman, and no women I know have ever had any sort of apology or admission from men who have assaulted them; and I’m hard-pressed to think of any well-known examples.

      • Hanakai

        calabasa, I hope you are soon able to extirpate this guy from your consciousness, stop giving him any real estate in your mind. Make him dead to you. Become utterly indifferent to him. Do whatever it takes to reach this point.

        I cannot see any good coming from you having any contact with your abuser. He is not worth any of your time or consciousness. If you feel compelled to warn other women about him, do it anonymously using an anonymous emailer and be straightforward: “I am one of the women raped by PigDogMan and send you this warning that he is a predator and not a good man.”

        Why are you even following him enough or paying attention to his life enough that you know who he is pursuing now? Who cares what he thinks or feels? Let him rot in his own fecal character and obscene criminality.

        Read The Count of Monte Cristo and if you are determined to get revenge, do it like that, with complete coldness of heart and with the result of complete destruction of the enemy. I would hope, though, that you move forward putting your energy into increasing your own happiness and well-being and doing the creative work that brings you joy.

    • Marla

      “Has ever, in the history of ever, even once, has any male ever admitted to committing rape? Anyone?”

      Charles Manson, maybe?

  • k.c.

    What happened to innocent until proven guilty? Your mind sounds made up that Ben is guilty. I think its 100% possible Ben thought the interaction was consensual and Jen regretted it after the fact. Or they’re both telling their truth and version of the story, and both misinterpreted the other. Is not using “their” pronouns a “fuck you?” And also: Jen could be a non-binary female/trans person, correct?

    • Meghan Murphy

      You hit all the marks! I give your trolling 10/10.

      • k.c.

        Thanks but I’m not a troll. Care to address my questions? edit-not you…who isn’t capable of healthy discourse. The author.

        • Meghan Murphy

          Please teach me this “discourse” you speak of! I’m so eager to learn.

        • will

          Your questions, mealy-mouthed as they were, have been answered several times by several commenters. Are you really having a temper tantrum because the author herself is not taking time to attend to your self-centred demands? You have a lot of growing up to do, child.

    • Dana

      You don’t get a cookie for regretting rape after the fact.

    • Hekate Jayne

      Why are you wasting energy worrying about a rich, white rapist?

      The fact that our prisons are not filled with rich, white dudes should be a clue that Bif is going to be just fine.

      Males rape because they know that their “justice” system protects them. Protection for the rapist and blaming the victim is built right in.

      I’m sure that rapists everywhere appreciate your support.

  • orangedesperado

    David Bowie was married to a woman but hooking up with many men, during his make-up and glitter phase(s). He was clumsily out about his preferences, by telling the press he was gay, when he really meant bi. His bi wife Angela rolled her eyes. Many of the songs he wrote throughout the 70’s directly reference his actual sexual and social behaviour.

    Pwr Bttm seem about as queer as Motley Crue. Make-up and social identity posturing cannot hide the wolf wearing Grandma’s cape.

    • Marla

      Just listened to them and…er…ugh. They are gimmick hacks. They are record company bought-and-paid for trolls who are hired to cast an identity to the masses that will blindly accept them and their gender queer rhetoric of bullshit. No wonder they were soon dropped when the facade they cast is more shallow than their horrendous um…”non-binary” makeup.

  • DeerDough

    Can these names sound any more pornographic?

    As someone who experienced these so called “non-binary” people on tumblr around 2013-2014, I can tell you that they all hate women and girls. Including young girls who identified as “agender” or “transmasculine”. They hate it so much that they lash out on you if you call them by “she/her” pronouns.

    It’s no surprise hetero men like Ben Hopkins are now adopting queer labels in order to infiltrate LGB spaces.

    They remind me of Blood on Dance Floor. The emo band, not the MJ song.

  • Sabine

    What’s “queer” about a bloke who wants to fuck women? Take away the clothing, make-up and preferred pronouns and what are we left with? A run-of-the-mill misogynistic prick trying to coerce women into unwanted sex and refusing to take no for an answer. That’s about as standard as it gets. Queer my arse.

  • The sexual abuse of women is framed as “queer” because then it could, conceivably, be about victimizing (queer) men. Since women are seen by that crowd as privileged (think of all the trans women who long for street harassment and period pain), they cannot be victimized as women, only as queer. Since lesbians abuse trans women and queer males by not having sex with them, they cannot be victims of sexual abuse, only transphobia for not complying. But if you’re queer, being abused apparently matters. It’s a gender-neutral sort of thing, as in it happens mainly to women, but if they don’t identify as women they can legitimately complain.

  • Meghan Murphy

    Yeah all these third wavers supposedly holding these men to account while also ‘respecting pronouns’ is insane. The priorities are so out of whack.

    • esuth

      The fact that this guy’s VICTIM continues the charade is so sad. I have two rapist ex boyfriends who succumbed to trans years after I left them, and I would NEVER call a man who raped me anything but a man.

  • Meghan Murphy

    I’m the freakin founder and editor of the site, bub. Feel free to read any of the hundreds of articles I’ve written over the years, wherein I have presented ideas intelligently. But, hey, thanks for the mansplain.

    • Ralph Dudley

      Wow.

      • Meghan Murphy

        First time visiting the feminist internet?

        • will

          Poor child seems a bit lost, (and full of himself).

  • Meghan Murphy

    None of your comments have been deleted, Ralphy. All comments are moderated here, which means they need to be manually approved by a human before they post.

    • will

      But Ralph is very special and was raised to have people like you, little lady, to jump to his every whim! Careful you don’t make him have to “call you out”!!!!

  • k.c.

    Not making excuses. I’m just curious, because all the younger fans (I am a fan as well) are being extremely insistent on referring to Ben with “their” correct pronouns. I don’t feel it’s my place to say whether or not they are actually “trans” or “non-binary.” I do think it should be considered that “Jen” is not biologically female, though.

    • Meghan Murphy

      Both bandmembers are male. What is the purpose of pretending this is not the case? Do you not see that this is being done intentionally, via ‘queer politics’ to gaslight women and to prevent them from understanding and naming the violence and oppression they experience in patriarchy?

      • edgySF

        Simplicity is very difficult for twisted minds.

  • Hanakai

    I cannot participate in the current cultural insanity of referring to the mutilated male homosexuals who call themselves transwomen with the pronouns of she and her. These guys are biological males and I refer to them as he or him. That sometimes results in these guys and those who share their delusions going apoplectic with their irrationally-shrieky bullying cries of transphobia and bigotry. C’est la guerre. I respond that maybe they should save their emotional energy and outrage for the destruction of the planet and her wildlife, or the fact that 20,000 children die everyday of starvation, or the fact of serial killers are murdering women in every one of the 50 states; and that their hyper-emotionality over the use of a pronoun is not a sign of mental stability. This stance has not increased my popularity in ‘liberal’ circles and I am reminded of the Romanian saying: “A woman who speaks the truth is chased out of eleven villages.”

    With the calmer delusions, I explain what delusions are, that these are a mental illness which can be treated. Further that there are no genetic or physiological markers of trans-ness. Further that children who are now in recent years, since the advent of trans propaganda, are found to have normal XX or XY chromosomes and normal hormone levels for their sex and age. Trans-ness is a condition that exists only in the mind, the unhealthy mind that needs healing, that needs to learn to love himself and the magnificent miraculous body that Nature gave him. It is a disease, an unease, of the mind and surgery is not the way to treat diseases of the mind. (Medicine tried that in the days of using prefrontal lobotomies to cure mental disorder —- so we have known for some time that surgery is not a treatment for mental illness.)

    Men are he, women are she. I also use he and she when referring to animals. My thought is that sentient beings are not objects and I refuse to paint them as objects by referring to them as ‘it.’ If human are to positively evolve, we need to stop thinking of our fellow* creatures as its, as things, as objects for our consumption and exploitation. They are beings, they have consciousness, they have sex.

    In modern usage, the word ‘fellow’ refers to males. But back in the history of the word, it was used to for both sexes and referred to a companion or ‘fellow traveler’ or one of the same kind or spirit. My single-handed attempts at resurrecting the older meaning of the word may be futile. Words have power and we need to change the language as it has been used to solidify the oppression of womankind. If there is another word in modern usage that has the old meaning of fellow, I would be pleased to learn of it. Come on, one of you smart women.

    • edgySF

      Exactly.

      Physical surgery does nothing to heal psychological problems.

      T is a social contagion…spreading like a mental virus.

      In my day, people avoided unnecessary surgery. People looked down on cosmetic surgery. Now people are addicted to it.

  • northernTNT

    And Bowie was a Hitler adulater, hanging out with transsexual/transvestite nazi adulators in Germany for many years…

  • northernTNT

    Additional question to ponder… of all those males doing glam and femme in the 80s… what percentage were sexists, and what percentage were actually respectful of females. There is a general trend, males taking feminine airs tends to be the worst of em.

  • Meghan Murphy

    Understand that we see these comments constantly, as a knee-jerk response, every single time we publish anything that even vaguely touches on ‘pronouns,’ the idea of ‘non-binary’, trans, queer politics, etc. It’s frustrating that people don’t think things through before commenting in this way, as you can imagine. Also, there is that fact that about 99% of the time, when we *do* respond sincerely, the commenter rejects all that time and work and instead maintains their original, thoughtless, knee-jerky response. I’m sure you can imagine, considering all this, why we may come to believe these comments are not left in good faith…

  • Hanakai

    I would say that you need to stop wasting Meghan Murphy’s time and our time.

    We have a patriarchy to dismantle, so begone, get out of the way. Go do some reading and educate yourself and quit wasting women’s time.

  • calabasa

    Interesting. So they’ll only openly admit it when it’s not considered to even be wrong, or a problem.

    But the men who do it still don’t think it’s wrong, or a problem.

    • Notmethisonetime

      We’re just emerging from the Dark Ages as far as international norms regarding violence against women. I’m an older Millennial, and it’s bizarre to think that I was already a teenager when the the world reached a general consensus that women had a right to say no to sex. There are millions of men who reached adulthood well before that time who are alive and continuing to influence society as fathers, judges, politicians, etc.

      Who knows how long it will take until rape changes from something you don’t do because you don’t want to get in trouble, to something you don’t do because it’s wrong.

    • FierceMild
  • will

    You wrote “I think its 100% possible Ben thought the interaction was consensual and Jen regretted it after the fact.”

    This mythology of women “regretting” sex and then accusing the man of rape is very fucking aggressive. It’s deep misogyny that exists only to make excuses for predatory men and does not represent any significant reality of sexual interaction. I found your comment deeply, offensively aggressive, stranger, but typically rather than “weirdly” so.

  • calabasa

    Heteronormative refers to how heteronormative gender roles (men dominating women) influence homosexual couples (one is expected to dominate, or be the “top,” and the other to submit, or be the “bottom”), including in how they behave with each other, non-sexually. I think it also refers to cultural presumptions and stereotypes about gay people, and to stereotypes about human sexuality in general.

    Actually, heterosexuality itself can be argued to be a construct. The BBC did it, here: http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20170315-the-invention-of-heterosexuality

  • Zuzanna Smith

    Oh lookit Ralph conceding that Meghan wrote some alright articles, piss off bro, no one needs your approval here. You’re not a feminist, and stop tone policing women, creepshow.

  • will

    Look kid, your comments come off as absurdly ill-informed and extremely presumptuous. Like you come off as a typical self-centred immature boy. You are clearly very young and there is still a chance for you to NOT grow up to be a pompous a-hole. Talk less. Listen, read and think more. Try to resist repeating what has already been said. If something “bugs”, you, take your time and make absolutely sure you know what the fuck you are talking about where the hell you are and to whom you are speaking. You will save yourself a lot of embarrassment and every else a lot of irritation.

    • Ralph Dudley

      So much ad hominem.

      Alllright, last time I even say anything because honestly this is a settled matter. I didn’t realize the context of this page always being trolled, plus the explanation further was quite enlightening. The moderation I have always done has been more community focused than open internet so I suppose that is where my value differences came from. I’m pretty sure since we have fairly equivalent roles on different online venues that me saying it bugs me is pretty damn valid. As far as who and where I’m from, I’ve been homeless, and some of the stuff in here is pretty close to home even though the context is different, and I know what I’m talking about. Furthermore, I know it from both sides, which is why it’s VERY important to not jump to conclusions.

      I really honestly don’t think this is tone policing either, it’s a legitimate concern and people MUST be treated as individuals not stereotypes or statistics, otherwise yes, statistically speaking he committed the rape, but the reality is there’s a not insignificant chance that he isn’t, and he hasn’t had a chance to provide his evidence. Also you can’t tell me I’m not a feminist, the definition of a feminist is to support feminism, your style of feminism isn’t the same as the people I respect because when it comes to ideals and beliefs we actually discuss. Furthermore, she suggested I read the articles. Maybe my way of typing and organization doesn’t meet your standards but at least its sincere and with minimal ill intent (I was sarcastic at the end of that post, prolly shouldn’t have been but I felt attacked so I regurgitated an insult) as I try and seemingly always fail to explain myself.

      I realize this is a tough subject, it’s quite tough for me as well (and if you don’t think so, just fuck off, all I’ll say is that fence has been a thing way too often with people I know, rape cases, not rape case (singular admittedly), not even gonna go further but it exists),
      but we need to treat rape suspects as suspects or just completely say
      fuck this society altogether and go back to the method used in early
      America, mob rule. This still happens in parts of the world, and most think its despicable and uncivilized. You can’t go forward and backwards at the same time,
      I mean you’ll be doing splits for one….

      I am sorry for some things I said that came out as outright rude, but I’m thankful (realized afterward that it looked weird tbh) that I got a full explanation out of it, and those came simultaneously and really they didn’t NEED to explain themselves either but it sure did give more perspective and allowed some understanding.

      Basically that’s all I have to say on this subject, if I come back it’ll just be for laughs but I will probably be reading something else by then. I am glad people are invested in the topic, even if I think it needs more critical evaluation and political detachment to make significant progress on a societal scale. It’s kind of ridiculous to be arguing with people who I agree 90% on an issue just because they want to be on a crusade with the remaining 10% rather than coming together at a 95 we can agree with.

      I hope all these people telling me to read and educate themselves have already gotten their 4-years in a science or engineering topic because that’s the only way they could be ahead of me on that, plus I might still be ahead in reading. It’s not like I don’t know what problems women face, and while mine may not be comparable in any way, hopefully they know the problems homosexuals face. It’s not like I don’t want to fix the issues either, or think it’s out of grasp. If anyone thinks I’m wasting their time are really silly, I might be impacting volunteer mod time just a bit (sorry! last time on this article though, promise, and I’ll try to start my own thread if I have something to say next time) but your time? Did I make you read the comments section? Yikes.

  • Meghan Murphy

    Thanks.

  • Melinda Mann

    Thank you so much for this piece. Person by person we will relearn the meaning of “woman” “lesbian” “gay” and “bi” and stop the absurd shallow culture that believes that straight men somehow change their nature by throwing on a dress and calling themselves queer, or transfeminine, or women.

  • k.c.

    i’m not particularly concerned–its just–if you remotely say “he” under the PWR BTTM statement on Facebook/twitter–the youngins attack you and say “use their correct pronouns/you are a rape apologist” This is just a completely different take on what I’ve been seeing.

  • Meghan Murphy

    It’s also worth noting that ‘aggression’ is *usually* directed at anyone who dares question this third wave gobbledygook/pronoun crap/Newspeak.

    I’m not saying that the correct response is necessarily that *we* respond “aggressively,” but as anyone who’s spent any time at all in these debates will know, no amount of pleasantries, rational questions, or logical arguments can prevent being called a bigot and a TERF for asking why we must ‘respect the pronouns’ of male predators, for example.

    • FierceMild

      Absolutely. And I’m not that great a troll-sniffer. I think it’s Tired Feminist who has that unerring bloodhound instinct for trolls. I tend to get drawn in from imento time.

      • Meghan Murphy

        It’s hard to tell sometimes… And, to be honest, sometimes I think maybe it’s better if we aren’t so hyperaware of potential trolls (as I often am…) because then we don’t automatically get pissed off every time someone asks an annoying question… 🙂

  • Yisheng Qingwa

    Yep. There sure is. Men teach their sons to treat women like shit and deny any personal responsibility. I had one tell me that men abusing me is a “self-fulfilling prophecy”. That cemented my awareness that men are a Goddamned disease and utterly worthless to women.

  • Meghan Murphy

    My understanding was that all the victims were female.

  • will
  • Melanie

    They should’ve called themselves PWR TOOLS.

  • Mandy

    Not sure whether to laugh or cry at the brilliance of this.

    It needs to be a meme.

  • Independent Radical

    “I experienced all of this in an emotionally abusive relationship with a male – his line “That’s your perception and your reality.” ”

    Sounds like standard liberal “intellectual” nonsense. You’ll hear that being said by just about every young person you come across nowadays, particularly at universities, so it’s not “his line” unfortunately. It goes to show how messed up abusive thinking has become so normal.

    If being abused is just “your perception” and “your reality” then it follows that you shouldn’t “force” onto people who haven’t experienced it, so women can’t connect with other women unless they’ve shared the same experiences (on in the case of identity politics, specific set of demographic traits which are believed to constitute an “identity”) and the feminist movements becomes weakened. Really, any radical movement is weakened by liberal, relativist crap.

    Being physically abused isn’t “my reality”, but I know that doesn’t make the abuse any less real, that’s right, real, not “real to me”, real. It happens in the physical world and one could chemically analyse the blood split if I really wanted to, but frequent accounts from women are good enough evidence for the reality of this brutal violence, not “her reality” or “your reality”, just reality. Enough with the relativism.

  • Atheist

    I was at Walmart getting a dollar sandwich before I went shopping. There were a group of kidults (sad that is even a word) sitting at a table throwing french fries at an obese woman calling her “stinky” and talking shit about how some people should just stay home.

    I whipped out my phone and caught as much of it as I could. While I stood back in line waiting to talk to the manager about it, the woman got up and left. I told her that she shouldn’t leave because I caught it all on camera but she hurried out. When the manager and I confronted them the dude doing the fry throwing denied it all up and down with this *wide eyed omgosh* look on his face while I glowered at him. They ended up being asked to leave but I was hoping they’d call the fucking cops. That’s assault and harassment, isn’t it? Punishable by jail time and fines.

    Edited to add: I almost forgot to mention that when the manager confronted them, he said something like “people aren’t allowed to throw food here.” There was no mention of the woman, or the harassment and assault she’d just gone through. Just “uh der duh don’t throw french fries.” Fucker.

  • Atheist

    Thanks for the link! I’m always looking for good feminist content on the ‘net.

  • Hekate Jayne

    I can’t believe that I actually have a question about this.

    I wonder what kind of peppers. Like, bell peppers? Hot peppers? Pickled peppers?

    Peppers and milk just seems weird. For a coke binge, I mean. I could see like maybe cheese and oranges or carrots and peanut butter or a million combos of 2 things.

    Also, the thing about his semen being stolen (LOL) reminds me of witches being accused of stealing penises and seeming to return them, because the dudes with the stolen penis would have their penis at the trial. So the males insisted that their penis actually was gone for a time. And all the other dudes stood around saying “oh, yes, we believe your penis was gone and now came back, she’s a witch! ”

    Males have a way over inflated sense of how important their dicks are. Delusional.

    • FierceMild

      Historical basis for the MRA fear of spermjacking!

  • Hekate Jayne

    I have read theories about human sexuality that state that the actual default state of humans would be homosexual, if not for males creating the gender hierarchy to keep women in servitude to them. People that theorize this support it in some interesting ways, like PIV sex being unnecessary for women because of our clitoris being the most accessible way for us to orgasm, and that PIV would typically be avoided to avoid pregnancy, which can be deadly, so women naturally seek to control it.

    Males have made the default “manly provider and protector” and “weak, girly sex giver and sandwich maker”. And we have internalized these roles so much that, even in homosexual relationships, those 2 roles must be filled. And these roles are also why males think that they are women. Because there’s only 2 hetero normative roles, and if you aren’t one, then you must be the other.

    I read a few forums run by butch lesbians, and some of them say that the default, natural personality of women would be closer to butch lesbians, if we weren’t incessantly groomed from birth to be delicate and sensitive and self sacrificing. They call that hetero normative, being pushed into the bottom role.

  • Meghan Murphy

    Yes, for sure. The consistent “Why are you all so MEAN?!” responses drive me insane. It’s completely sexist and manipulative. I indeed have a visceral reaction to people demanding women put male feelings before the truth.

    • will

      “I indeed have a visceral reaction to people demanding women put male feelings before the truth.”

      Oh yeah, and there’s that too. 🙂

  • Meghan Murphy

    Haha oh yes, that’s an understatement!

  • Meghan Murphy

    What do you think about the way women are immediately attacked and vilified because they name male violence as such, instead of gaslighting women by ‘respecting pronouns’?

    If you would genuinely like to have a dialogue, that’s great. Can you understand that because your first comment seemed more concerned with the ‘meanness’ of not using ‘correct pronouns’ women might respond angrily? I mean, no, it’s not a ‘fuck you,’ it’s just that we don’t gaslight women here. And perhaps you can understand that we are tired of having to defend simply telling the truth in a culture where delusion that disguises male dominance is the order of the day.

  • Meghan Murphy

    Do you honestly believe that Hopkins was sexually harassing/assaulting men?

  • Wren

    *WE* are guilty of groupthink???!?!?
    OMG that’s hilarious.

    • Meghan Murphy

      Irony is not a strong enough word, here, eh?

  • will

    Many people have patiently and honestly explained why your comment is offensive. You seem far more invested in feeling sorry for yourself and in tone policing than engaging in dialogue.

    Anyone who posts on a feminist website* that a rape claim might have been a case where “the interaction was consensual and [she] regretted it after the fact”, or some nonsense about a hypothetical innocent man who rapes thinking it’s consensual knows nothing about rape, and anyone who is this ignorant about rape is not a feminist. Further, your comment about “mature dialogue” is pure projection.

    *which you clearly have not read despite the fact that it is one of the most respected feminist spaces on the internet.

  • Paul Jones

    Wow. These guys are getting eviscerated on complete hearsay, and most, if not all of it, is petty BS surrounding thier personality. I’ve never seen a more clear example of a petty witch hunt, ever.

    • FierceMild

      You’re so right. It’s really petty and totally witch-hunty for women to think that this individual who has been accused of rape probably raped. I’ve never seen enythinf worse in my life. Not even rape.

    • Cassandra

      Is that you, Ben? Why are you carrying around a bird on a stick? If you’re trying to impersonate Snow White you’ve failed.

  • FierceMild

    The usage of ‘normative’ is prescriptive as in the setting of societal norms rather than the related descriptive usage of the word which acknowledges an average experience.

  • Hekate Jayne

    Thank you, those all look interesting. And I haven’t seen them before.

  • Alienigena

    Ha! I have never been a fan of rock, pop, alt, heavy metal, glam, psychedelic … mostly it is the cacophony but also the whiny (lost love, betrayal, lust) or completely obtuse lyrics. But the male singer/songwriters are also disturbing. And your comment validates the fact that many people in the entertainment industry was just incapable of behaving in a fashion that most people would consider acceptable. I would retroactively pity anyone who lived with Bowie or visited him during his time in LA. Look at the number of male actors who drive drunk, have committed assault (against a girlfriend or spouse), abuse drugs or alcohol, or have struck a member of the media or some random person. And the public views such people as role models … yeesh!

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/why-do-famous-men-get-away-violence_us_55e70283e4b0aec9f35534bf

    • ✧ʕ̢̣̣̣̣̩̩̩̩·͡˔·ོɁ̡̣̣̣̣̩̩̩̩✧

      the great gatsby had the line, “the very rich are different…” and i think that same bubble surrounds those who seek influence of any kind, whether in entertainment, politics, or finance.

  • Meghan Murphy

    Words like “queer” and “intersectional” have been completely emptied of all meaning by third wavers, to the point where they have been rendered useless. The words mean whatever the user decides they want them to mean, which, these days, seems to mainly center around white doods who wish to be centered in conversations about systemic oppression, so pretend to be marginalized because they like makeup and selfies.

  • Meghan Murphy

    Oh well, you may have noticed that I am a giant grump myself… 🙂

  • Tired feminist

    Well, I’m far from infallible, but let’s see… k.c. first came in with the presumption-of-innocence trope, which is almost a dude card in itself, then only after a few interactions with the “I’m a feminist” one. Another thing is, you and others already took the time to reply to him in good faith, yet he went on with the “wah wah I’m being attacked by your groupthink”. To me it sounds fabricated.

    I mean, it’s not really important to sniff the trolls because they out themselves sooner or later, but I do learn a lot about abuse tactics from watching them…

  • Hanakai

    OK by me. This normalization of trans insanity needs to stop. It is horrid to be surgically and hormonally mutilating people who are suffering a delusional mental illness. This transing business is not normal, it is not healthy, it is a psychopathology, usually with comorbidities (occurring in conjunction with other mental illnesses or personality disorders). These people who think they are in the wrong bodies need compassionate treatment to help to learn to love themselves and their magnificent bodies and to see reality as it it and that treatment needs to be psychotherapeutic, or where indicated, medical (i.e., drugs). It is crazy to lop off organs and mutilate the body, which does not do the job of fixing the sick mind.

    If you bring this viewpoint, you will likely catch a lot of flak from ignorant emotional outraged people. They will call you names. The calmer you remain, the more angry they get. They will, however, be unable to offer any facts in support of their unreasonable positions. I suspect the trans thing will continuance until there have been enough lawsuits by people who were hormonally destroyed and mutilated as children by the trans-protagonists. I do not expect humans to suddenly become collectively sane.

    I do not get why society has become so enamored of trans psychopathology. I wonder if most everyone born since the dawn of the atomic age is a mutant unable to conjure up basic common sense. (The NYT this week announced winners of a contest for writing about college-aged love; The winner was a F2MTrans infatuated with a fair maiden from India with whom a future was impossible; the runner-ups were 2 gay Mormon males who hid their gayness from each other during their mission; a maybe-woman who called herself variously an asexual and a demisexual; 2 women miserably unhappy with what loveless hookups they were finding on social media & Tinder — from the media one would never guess that 96% of people are heterosexual.)

    Why do we elevate and normalize the pathological, the miserable, the suicidal, the delusional? The only other thing I can think is that some people want to be seen as liberal and progressive without actually having to work or sacrifice for justice and it is easy for them to stupidly say “Ooo, I support trans & everyone who doesn’t is a bigoted transphobe.” Humans are a very confounding & irrational species. You do not see cats or frogs or whales destroying the planet or wanting to be mutilated. But I digress . . . .

  • Cassandra

    My mother said her son-of-a-bitch father actually taught her this: “If you steal the church and the steeple is sticking out of your pocket, deny it.” He was an abuser and an oxygen thief, of course.

  • Sabine

    “Considering, also, that narcissism is about the creation of a “false
    self,” one which will receive admiration/adulation, or, if that fails,
    sympathy for victimhood (both together would be ideal for a lot of
    narcissists, who want to make art or activism surrounding their
    self-described status as victims), and that narcissists have very little
    in the way of a real identity, and that it’s the indefinable trait of
    “special” they’ve been taught they are (or must be), but no one knows
    what that really is, it’s no surprise so many narcissists glom onto the
    trans movement, as it confers instant victim-status, instant community
    (narcissists and narcissistic enablers all love-bombing each other),
    instant admiration (talks, art, activism, all centered around the
    bravery of the person who’s transitioned), and the essential quality
    around which this movement coheres, “gender,” is as indefinable as the
    idea of “special,” making it kind of a catch-all and therefore very
    attractive to someone who wants to reinvent themselves.”

    Extremely well put.

  • Sabine

    PLEEEEEEEEEASE learn the LITERAL meaning of the word literal!!!

  • Meghan Murphy

    Acknowledging that a person prefers to be referred to as ‘they’ does not mean everyone else in the world needs to pretend they aren’t actually male. 

  • Wren

    totally

  • FierceMild

    Impersonating women so they’ll let their guard down around you and then raping them does kind of ‘bias’ people against you. Maybe they should stop doing that.

  • FierceMild

    That pair make me so sick.

  • FierceMild

    That’s similar to what I hear from
    Immigrants.

  • FierceMild

    Yes I wa s thinking of both that law and the fact that in the Brazilian constitution women are specifically accorded equality – something we have yet to do in the US. So in some ways it seems like Latin America is more dangerous for the vulnerable, among whom women are always the majority, while at the same time showing visible efforts toward acknowledging the horror that is life under patriarchy.

  • Rich Garcia

    @ander_garcia:disqus Because the class that is oppressed (females) isn’t obligated to use the language and abide by the belief systems of the class (males) that is oppressing them. Even your question sounds authoritarian, as if women are supposed to refer to men by their preferred form of reference.

  • Tired feminist

    “I’ve heard from Americans living in various parts of Latin America that “machismo” is definitely a significant aspect of the culture that boys and men aspire to”

    Interesting… as in, aspiring to be masculine? Because the word “machismo” (in Brazil at least) means “sexism” rather than “masculinity”, so it’s a rather negative term… whereas overt masculinity is indeed something guys tend to aspire to. So it’s pretty common to see even the most masculine macho manly men saying stuff like “I’m not machista, but…” in the same way many racist people say “I’m not racist but…”

    “although the Brazilian guys I met were on the whole very respectful, friendly and totally non-creepy!”

    Are you white? Because that plays a HUGE role… If you’re a white woman speaking English they’ll try anything to impress you.

    • Sabine

      I am white and from the UK – so that must have been it then, hahaha! How depressing. Machismo is the word a fluent Spanish speaking (not Portuguese) friend mentioned A LOT (he’s been living in South American countries for over forty years) so I’m not sure whether that’s a more Spanish thing? Either way, it seems to be all about the definite aspirations towards what we would indeed label sexist in English and by the sounds of it in Portuguese!

  • Tired feminist

    We do use correct pronouns here. Pronouns refer to sex, not to some intangible identity.

  • Tired feminist

    Why of course. Just as unbiased as you.

  • will

    Anyone fussing about “my pronouns” or someone else’s precious “pronouns” is unlikely to have ever experienced anything like actual struggle or hardship. Grow up and get a life, cupcake.

  • Wren

    Cause we don’t care.

  • Cassandra

    oh fuck off

  • Tired feminist

    I’m with you! And I’d take the opportunity and get rid of “gender” as well.

    • Sabine

      Let’s do it!!!!

  • skilletblonde

    IMHO, it appears that about 70% of Queer Culture is about some kind of redefining, reconstructing or debasement of women. Gay/queer men moving into women’s spaces has never been questioned. They dominate the Fashion Industry where they are the main creators of women’s clothes. They are also the preeminent hairdressers and makeup artists. The cruel, unrealistic, impossible, standards of beauty for women, they’ve helped to propagate.

    The drag shows, another custom of Queer Culture, also exemplifies males moving into women’s spaces. But, this is different from merely telling women what to wear and how to look. This is about becoming women themselves. It’s the putting on women’s clothes– and acting out exaggerated stereotypical behavior– they perceive as female. Again, women will often accept this without question. As a matter of fact, women will marvel at their makeup applications, and will assert they look better than actual women.

    But, now there is a greater intrusion of women’s spaces. I daresay this is dangerous. Now men are proclaiming that they are actually women. This is a total colonization and repudiation– of what it means to be born female. Once again, women are accepting this without question. I could be wrong here, but I think women’s timid response to some of the practices of gay/queer males– is because they are sympathetic to their plight. But, I also think it is because they are men. Some of us still accept the opinions of men as gospel. Never mind they may be wearing heels and makeup.