"Chill out, dear": An open letter to the New Age Dude

Many of you have probably had the misfortune of meeting one of these dudes. They come from the island. They grew up in some hippie community. They live in a bus. They are sooooo free that they don’t even see gender! Only humans. These dudes are so progressive you it’s beyond your comprehension, little lady.

While many of us see red as soon as the New Age Dude starts talking about “all the beautiful women of the woooorld,” many women and men alike, somehow, fall for it. Maybe we’ve even fallen for it at one time or another, thinking, “Hey! He seems like a nice guy! He isn’t in a fraternity and he claims to be ‘sensitive.’ He says he loves women and hates Maxim. What a treat!” Unfortunately we often learn the hard way that this seemingly progressive, sensitive guy is a misogynist in disguise.

Maybe you dated one, maybe they’re a friend of a friend, maybe you met one on the ferry. Maaaaaybe he had drum? A more innocuous guitar? Liked surfing? Trees? Gardening, even? It’s possible you crossed paths with him at a festival and he tried to give you a massage. They’re everywhere these days and sometimes hard to spot.

At times the red flag will go up when he starts talking about how women were so beeeautiful and nuuuurturing and in touch with the cycles of the moon, but the trouble with the subtlety of the New Age Dude is that they tend not to come out of the closet as the insidious sexists they truly are until you actually call them on it. But when that happens be sure to take a step back. Because this is when they snap.

These men are used getting pats on the back on account of their “open-mindedness.” They are absolutely convinced that saying things like “all women are beautiful” or “I’m just so jealous that women are able to give birth. TO HUMANS.” makes them the most progressive men in the universe, deserving of female adoration and love. I mean, they like their women “all-natural” (but thin, shaved, plucked, and young, mind you. Just NO CHEMICALS PLEEZ.) and have spent years telling themselves they are open-minded because they are into girls who wear flat shoes too (but, you know, if she wants to wear stilettos, for her, he will “appreciate” her hot ass, also. Because the New Age Dude doesn’t discriminate).

When you don’t buy their little persona they’ve become so proud of, they usually freak the fuck out. That’s when all the true and magical colours of their misogyny really start to shine through.

Because he really, truly believes that seeing all women as beautiful things for him to look at or molest in his tent (because he’s at peace with that so you should be too! Just relaaaaax, prude.) is a compliment, this New Age Dude (these dudes are usually white too and conveniently, their open-mindedness also allows them not to see race. Handy, right?) usually snaps back hard if you mention to him that women don’t actually exist for his boner stoner fantasies.

In fact, if you do mention to him some fairly obvious, feminism 101 facts such as: we live in a patriarchy, or, it isn’t a compliment to talk only and obsessively about how “beautiful” women are (because, hey! Our end all be all isn’t that *squee!* you want to hump us), or that, just because you, as an individual have decided you have mysteriously escaped the white male privilege that all other white males experience (it’s the magic of the new age lobotomy! I’m not like other men! I’m above all that. And if you tell me differently I’ll probably call you a bitch.), it doesn’t make it so, the dude will attack.

He will likely engage in gaslighting, tell you to “calm down” or “relax” and then, possibly explain to you that actually it is YOU who is the sexist (see how that works? Twisty!) or the racist! HA. Bet you didn’t see that one coming!  Because actually if you were really, truly, evolved like this New Age Dude you would get over all this systematic oppression crap and just relax and enjoy life (read: play nice and keep quiet unless you’re agreeing with him or showing him your boobs. Because that’s what forward-thinking ladies do).

As you may have guessed, I encountered another one of these fine men just the other day. His response to my (very brief) attempt to explain that women are, in fact, more than just beautiful ‘things’ and that, alas, society is actually very limited in terms of who they deem ‘beautiful,’ was, surprise, surprise, some classic crazy-making maneuvers, including that which was recently outlined by as a special form of emotional manipulation reserved for women and used by the men who want to silence them called gaslighting.

His response to me?

“Chill out, dear.”

Truth be told, I was feeling pretty relaxed up until that moment.

The rest of his response was a humorous romp through New Age Dude manipulation. He told me I was “shallow and sexist” for “only thinking about physical beauty” (because, you know, he was actually talking about women’s inner beauty, stupid) and that he didn’t only like “barbies” (dingdingdingding! He’s progressive ladiez!! Sometimes he likes women with real boobs! Swoon.), and finally, that if he is “not allowed to salute” women’s beauty, “then the world really is a sad place.”

It’s always a fun time being called a sexist by a man who uses porn, frequents strip clubs, and thinks that buying sex from women is totally cool. Mostly though, it’s fun to be told to “chill out” for mentioning that, indeed, out there in the big, bad world, sexism does exist and society tends to value women, primarily, for their physical appearances and their ability to be sexually appealing to men.

In conclusion, New Age Dudes, I have a message for you: telling women who name sexism, or racism, or privilege to “chill out” makes you an asshole. Not only that! But it also makes you a grade A sexist.

Yes, your other New Age Dude-bros (and, sadly, some of your new age lady friends who find it easier to function in this life by pretending that everything is just peachy as is. Possibly because if they felt otherwise you and your dude-friends would shame, attack, and humiliate them for daring to question your progressive righteousness but also, possibly, because these ladies have also drank the feminists-are-the-real-sexists kool-aid) will cheer you on for these kinds of responses, because they, like you, want to be considered sensitive and progressive without having to actually consider how your own behaviour might be perpetuating inequality.

But their support, nor your success at shutting women up by condescending to them, nor the simple fact that you’ve elected to deny that systematic oppression exists and then deny your own, very active, role in perpetuating sexism, does not make you progressive. It makes you an idiot. And it makes you part of the problem. You feign concern for OHTHAWORLDITSSOSAD, and yet you can’t see past your own nose to address the role you play in all this.

Next time try this: “Oh hey? A woman is pointing out how she sees and experiences sexism in this world, as discussed by many other feminists for the past four decades or so. Instead of getting my boner into a knot and attacking her, I suppose I could use my big old new age brain to, for once, shut up and listen.”

Yes, New Age Dude, that would be the most progressive and least oppressive thing you could do.

Meghan Murphy
Meghan Murphy

Founder & Editor

Meghan Murphy is a freelance writer and journalist. She has been podcasting and writing about feminism since 2010 and has published work in numerous national and international publications, including New Statesman, Vice, Al Jazeera, The Globe and Mail, I-D, Truthdig, and more. Meghan completed a Masters degree in the department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University in 2012 and lives in Vancouver, B.C. with her dog.

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  • Alexis

    Love a good stereotype. Great post.

  • Omnia Vanitas

    Many academic men, who would be offended were someone to tell them they aren’t feminists, and who should really know better (they pride themselves on their intelligence and education), are notorious for telling women to “chill out” when called on their own or others’ sexist remarks/ behaviour. If one of these guys is out somewhere and a woman says something like “Wow, that movie was really sexist” Do not mansplain to her that it was just meant to be “funny/ironic/entertainment/art”. Rather, close your mouth, open your ears and LISTEN to her reaction. Acknowledge her perspective. If a woman is saying something is sexist, here’s a tip dudes: IT PROBABLY IS. And if you say something or one of your “sophisticated” bros says something and a woman –or another man for that matter!– says “Hey, you know, that was a pretty sexist remark.” Once again: Shut the mouth and open the ears: acknowlege and accept said criticism and MOVE ON. Stop trying to tell sub altern classes of people what they should or should not find oppressive to themselves. It’s fucking obscene and disgusting entitlement. Just stop it. I think it’s really time for men who WANT to be progressive to start stepping up to the grown-up plate of accountability and actually BEING progressive. There’s nothing worse than a faux feminist.

    • Meghan Murphy

      Oh totally, Omnia. I’ve been berated by “progressive” men for criticizing sexism in a film and, as you say, usually the response is that I’m just not “getting it” (the irony, the hidden meaning, whatever).

    • Fabien

      “If a woman is saying something is sexist, here’s a tip dudes: IT PROBABLY IS.”

      WTF??
      No, just because a woman, any woman, says something is sexist doesn’t mean it is. Women can be dumb too and most women are equally as ignorant about sexism and feminism as most men are. The patriarcal structure of the society would never have hold that long without the active complicity of women.

      • Evie

        “The patriarcal structure of the society would never have hold that long without the active complicity of women.”
        That means that just because a woman says something is NOT sexist does not mean it ISN’T. As much as you might like to think so, women aren’t in the habit of calling everything we dislike “sexist”. If she says it is sexist, it means she sees it oppressing women. Not that it is *intended to* oppress women, because, ultimately, that is irrelevant, but that it has that effect. You see, when one is being crushed by a rock, one cares less about pinpointing the reason than about getting the rock removed.

  • Very interesting. And it hits closer to home than I can stand, so I won’t say anything else.

    Except this: yes, an awful lot of the “New Age” stuff is codswalop, but there are certain things that are worth exploring. Never allow a few arseholes to deter you from finding out interesting things.

  • My favorite is the “I’m just admiring her beauty” after catching a dude gawking. I love the “relaaax” or “naaah, you just don’t understand what i mean, that’s all” – ugh, sorry you had that experience. I can’t believe someone would call YOU, a woman, a freakin’ sexist – a feminist a sexist, a dude is saying this? WOW… Any dude who uses porn and goes to strip clubs is NOT concerned about beauty or equality…or women in general.

    • Meghan Murphy

      Yeah, BK, I can’t say I wasn’t more than a little flabbergasted by that one. I suppose he thought he was pretty clever, calling a feminist a sexist? Like, HA! Tables! Turned! Behold my tricky brilliance!

    • CT

      Um, actually, studies have shown that virtually ALL MEN watch/look at porn.

      • joy

        Hence, all men are unconcerned with women and see us all as merely decorative objects.

        Not what you wanted to hear? Ooops.

      • kurukurushoujo

        That’s not even true, CT. About which studies are you speaking? The way you formed your sentence implies that men have a consistent diet of hardcore pornography. The studies I know don’t point to such an amount. The porndog who has to whack off to women being denigrated at least once a day or even week is not in the majority.

        I know it’s hard to tell for people who regularly consume porn but you are not the representative group.

        • joy

          Indeed, *all* men do not watch porn. I know of one I can say for certain does not (no, he’s not a Republican, Christian, or conservative, demographics of men which are widely known to consume porn and buy women [and/or children, and/or men, especially men in public bathrooms] for sex), and yes, the differences in his demeanor and ideology are radical and palpable. Probably a few other women here know “one” or maybe two non-porn men, which adds up to, let’s say, ten or twenty men out there in society. Ergo, definitely not ALL men consume porn or support men who do.

          But even if we can say that the majority of men DO consume and support porn, that doesn’t make porn good and okay. It just makes porn the dominant narrative. Because the ideas porn perpetuates, much like the ideas put forth in the New Agey Dude’s general shitspew, are part and parcel in terms of service to the patriarchy. They reinforce the idea that women are “other”, objects to consume, items without independent internal life which exist solely to gazed upon and/or acted upon. Any concepts of women as independent actors are limited to women’s capacity to do things (sex acts, babyraising, ego-boosting, behavior-enabling, delusion-reinforcing) for men’s convenience.

          Not cool. Not the way we want to be regarded, or the way we want to live our lives.

          • Joy, even if they claim not to watch porn (a dubious claim), they still objectify women in their daily lives. Don’t get fooled.

          • joy

            Fear not. I’m hardly credulous, nor trying to Not-My-Nigel (I don’t have a nigel) or Whadddaboutthemen?!

            I just mean … there have to be maybe twenty non-porn men* out there. In the whole world. Even if none of us ever meet them. Right?

            Okay, so regardless of how many men out there do or do not watch porn, my original point stands: all men hate women. I feel pretty good making that assertion.

            (*The one or two I mentioned have never made claims one way or another, but there is a definite palpable difference similar to that which I’ve noticed among people who don’t consume porn. I’ve spent my entire adult life living with, organizing with, cleaning up after, being mansplained to and threatened by and abused/raped by (and having my rapes/abuses further mansplained and denied by) New Age Dudes and their brethren Liberal Nice Guys [TM], so I have good instincts and no real interest in chilling with any men — but there is a noticeable difference in them when they aren’t literally buying and selling women’s bodies.
            Clearly, though, they all sell us out somewhere along the line, so you’re still 100% correct.)

          • Oh very good then. There are few things that annoy me more than radfems who use the Not My Nigel Argument. It’s just plain silly, given what they already know about men.
            I wouldn’t say all men hate women at all levels, but at the sexual level at least, definitely.
            Of course, a majority of men hate women at all levels, that’s clear enough (given the fact that most men will side with a potential rapist and against the woman he harasses, as the Rebecca Watson case clearly proved).

          • Le Derp

            So all men are liars and anything we say is dubious? Yeah, you’re not biased at all are you? Don’t pretend you can read men’s mind’s.

      • Le Derp

        Ummm…pardon me? You think ALL men look at porn? Really? You must know that’s not true?

    • PetroniusArbiter

      Being a woman, and/or a feminist does not magically mean you cannot possibly ever be sexist in any way. Whether on not a statement is sexist depends on the statement, and not whether it was a dude or a woman who said it.
      As far as the second half of your statement – are you seriously claiming that a male with an active libido who uses porn cannot ever have any interest in beauty or gender egalitarianism? Without denying the many many problems the porn industry as such has, your claim as it stands now is beyond ridiculous.

      That being said, great article.

      • Meghan Murphy

        Of course women say sexist things all the time, but calling a feminist sexist for pointing out that sexism exists is ridiculous. A woman can say sexist things, but cannot BE sexist against a man. Do you see the difference? And no, a man who is a consumer of pornography has no interest in real equality. If you objectify women, you don’t truly see them as equals. ‘Beauty’ has nothing to do with it. The ‘beauty’ excuse only justifies the oppressive behaviour.

        • PetroniusArbiter

          I have to completely disagree.
          A woman can absolutely BE sexist against a man – i cannot even see how you can say that, unless we have some sort of major disconnect of our definitions here, in which case i’d ask you to elaborate. What exactly do women have. or lack, that makes them sexism immune?
          In this particular case, calling this particular feminist sexist is ridiculous, because it’s not really true – it’s just a manipulative tactic used by a douchy dude. Calling out a feminist as sexist because she has said something sexist = not ridiculous.

          As for the porn issue – that calls for a longer discussion but condensing as much as i can:
          1. Does that mean that a woman who consumes porn has also no interest in equality at all?
          2. Do you honestly believe that noone is capable of viewing porn as visual pleasure/masturbatory aid without translating the implied attitude to real humans in his/her (or hir) life?
          3. Do you consider any and all porn to have the same effect, no matter what the content is? Are women uncapable of having fantasies/being aroused by sexual activities someone else might view as degrading? If I watch a porn clip of woman being extensively pleased by a man, am i still objectifying her?
          I’d like to point out that i’m not denying that the vast majority of mainstream porn is objectifying (not to mention rather boring, in large part because of this – if i can’t identify with the performers, it doesn’t do much for me). What i’m saying is that this is an issue only if it’s being taken literally and unexamined, if it’s being taken as instructions on how sex should be by young (or any age really) guys and girls without a better source of information. However, saying that anyone watching porn cannot possibly be a decent human being that see other humans of whatever gender/sex as equals is reductionist, not to mention extremely insulting to their intelligence.

          • Meghan Murphy

            womanonajourney already addressed this issue quite well, below, saying:

            “The word “sexism” is misleading, as implies both sexes face oppression. Individual men can have hard lives and can face oppression for factors such as race, class, and so forth, but they will not be discriminated against *as men* though.”

            Please describe an example of a woman being sexist against a man. And please also describe an example of a black person being racist against a white person. Because it’s the same thing.

            Women aren’t “immune” to sexism. It is simply that sexism is something that oppresses women and privileges men.

            If a woman watches porn, she isn’t feminist. She may claim to have an “interest in equality,” sure, but all sorts of people claim to be “interested in equality” but also, simultaneously, be racist or sexist, as I’ve tried to explain in this post.

            For more information about my perspective on porn, please see these posts: https://feministcurrent.com/category/pornography/

          • Red

            This is a very difficult argument to accept.

            If I walk alone at night through Harlem, are you suggesting my whiteness doesn’t make me a more likely target for a beating? If that is not racism, what is it?

            I like a lot of what you say on this site, Meghan, but the whole concept that “women can’t be sexist” and “blacks can’t be racist” is a pretty tough pill to swallow. Sorry. Not buying it.

  • I do not like this article at all. It is very sexist against men. It sounds like this woman writer has a big problem with females who do wear lipstick. I sign out of this. p.s. the gaslighting article is excellent though.

    • Meghan Murphy

      I suppose no one’s mentioned to you that there’s no such thing as sexism against men? Just like there’s no such thing as racism against white people? And, for the record, I wear lipstick. Though I fail to see what lipstick has to do with any of this.

      • ema nekaf

        Any one who uses a particular philosophy or a movement to get in someone pants is a douche. Although I think it needs saying that having a philosophy or belonging to a particular movement is not in of itself a bad thing, there were good people in the Nazi party after all. Its what you do that defines you (yay batman!)

        • Meghan Murphy

          I have no idea what movement or philosophy you are talking about?

          • ema nekaf

            Neither do I, it was just a blanket statement. Anyone who professes in a philosophy or joins a movement because they wish to reap the benefits from belonging to said movement or adhering to said philosophy is,among other things, a douche.

      • joy

        If her post was sarcastic/fake trolling, it was pretty funny.

        It probably isn’t, though.

        • Meghan Murphy

          No, I’m pretty sure this one’s for real…

    • The word “sexism” is misleading, as implies both sexes face oppression. Individual men can have hard lives and can face oppression for factors such as race, class, and so forth, but they will not be discriminated against *as men* though.

      Feminism isn’t about what an individual woman wears, or even the things women across the globe put on their bodies. It’s about understanding how women are systematically oppressed by a male supremacist society and joining in sisterhood with other women to realize we’re not alone with this.

      • Meghan Murphy

        Right on, sister.

      • cosmictotem

        ” but they will not be discriminated against *as men* though.”

        As a male who just discovered this blog through the Democratic Undergroud, I have to say that quote above is spot on…males, in a patriarchal society such as we undoubtedly have, will never be discriminated against as men ….but they will be discriminated against for failing to conform or live up to the existing stereotype of what a man should be. They will be discriminated against if they have sincere sympathies toward feminist ideas. A lot of men get mentally “beat up” by patriarchal society for daring to openly side with feminist thought. That can’t compare to the suffering of women but I think if men can share and agree with many of the ideas of feminism, they certainly can be discriminated against for it.

        • cosmictotem

          Btw, I just want to clarify one thing about my above post before I get called on it:

          By specifying that I am male I did not mean to suggest that womanonajourney’s quote needed the approval or confirmation of a male perspective to be true and accurate. Obviously, not. I put my gender out there only because I know there may be some feminists who regard a male opinion as limited and I didn’t want to misrepresent my perspective to anyone. Nor am I suggesting feminists discriminate against men. It’s just a fact that, due to our culture’s neglect at introducing men to woman’s issues, the male perspective can indeed be lacking and limited.

  • joy

    I love this post.

    I’ve met this dude a thousand times in anarchist, (faux)gressive, pseudo-counterculture (modern hippie/hipster/fauxhemian), and generally lefty circles. He’s definitely not limited to the stereotypical image of the New Age Dude. And he reeks of condescending bullshit wherever he goes.

    People wonder why we get frustrated with men and are often suspicious of ‘profeminists’/male ‘allies’/Not-*This*-Nigel!s until they prove themselves to be genuine.

  • Danica

    wow. Some serious allegations here. I’m out of the feminist loop.. Just one question.. what’s wrong with watching porn?

    • Meghan Murphy

      Very briefly, porn objectifies women, sexualizes inequity, and sexualizes violence and rape. It presents women as less than human, as body parts, and as things which exist to pleasure men. As things which exist to be fucked.

  • Forgetful Man

    I propose the term “dudipulation” for the combination of gaslighting, condescension, and manipulation used by these kinds of “dudes”.

    Ok, back to listening….

  • These are a few sites that go in depth on what is wrong with porn:

    http://rageagainstthemanchine.com/
    http://antipornfeminists.wordpress.com/
    http://buriedalive.wordpress.com

    Meghan has also written some articles on pornography for the F Word.

  • Milly

    **Trigger warning for discussion of sexual assault.**

    After being sexually assaulted by my mid 50’s white male yoga teacher when I was 19, I was told I “had a beautiful spirit”. Barf.

    New age, same old patriarchal assholery.

    • Meghan Murphy

      Ugh. How terrible. So sorry to hear about your experience, Milly.

  • Bonnie

    Yeah, good post. I’m very familiar with this man. I used to call this man “The Nineties Man,” but I guess that’s getting outdated. My young friends regard the nineties as a real long time ago. Yes this man is still with us!

  • marv wheale

    For many years I valued women for their prettiness, sex appeal and sweetness. I believed almost all the propaganda of malestream society, our “cultural heritage”. I was a left-wing, back-to-nature manarchist. It was radical feminists like you people who jolted me into reality. Infinite thanks to the movement for showing me how to become a human being instead of a sexist imbecile. I know I need to do more to spread the joyous news of feminist liberation. A greater blog cannot be found than the F Word to provide the guidance.

  • T

    Ladies,

    I’ve got to tell you something: this kind of guy is NOTHING NEW. I’m 55 years old, and I’m old enough to remember all the hippy asshole men saying THE EXACT SAME THINGS in the 60s and 70s; and they got just as mad when you called them on it. Those kind of men are VICIOUS.

    Hope women learn from this. Nothing new under the sun.

  • NitroGirl

    Holy speed racing Hades, if I ever encountered a guy like that I would probably die from over-exposure of sheer stupidity. There are a lot of guys like this on the internet ,though. I have on occasion, called them on their shit, and when I did, they flipped the frick out (just as you said) . Men like this “join” these movements for their own vanity, not because they genuinely care about the plight of others. I’ve argued with these types They want gold stars for declaring that “women are people too”, and when a woman like me decides “You don’t get a gold star”, they throw mantrums or try to Man-ipulate me into changing my stance. Bottom line is that you’re not a special snowflake for thinking women are human,and there aren’t any rewards for doing so. You don’t get a reward for going to work, or washing your hide. It’s as it should be. These kind of men will outright lie straight to your faces,and even downplay your own oppression for anything they feel they are entitled to as a male (for example,prostitution,pornography,even busty comic/videogame girls). I insisted that someone didn’t respect women once (he was one of those “free love” hippie types) and he just went off and told me how much he respects women (even though he made a rape “joke”) and that he’s insulting and obnoxious to females with dissenting opinions because he’s all about equality and so if men treat men like shit , men treat women like shit in the name of equality. Equality -it’s not what they think it means.

  • CT

    OK, I agree with most of this except for the “porn is evil” part. Why? Because virtually ALL MEN WATCH/READ PORN. At one point, a group wanted to conduct a study comparing men who did watch porn to men who didn’t. They couldn’t find any that didn’t.

    • Meghan Murphy

      1) I don’t believe anyone said “porn is evil.” It’s much more complex than that
      2) It is a blatant lie that all men watch porn. Of course many men do, but not all.
      3) The fact that most men watch porn does not make porn “ok” / harmless. It is representative of the deep misogyny of our culture and that we, as a culture, believe that misogyny is, indeed, acceptable as well as a turn on.
      4) This thread will not become a discussion about whether porn is “good” or “bad”. There are many other posts on this blog, as well as on many other blogs, for you to further explore these debates. We are not here to re-explain basics for you.

  • Ever since I’ve started reading feminist blogs and paying particular attention to comments by men, I’ve come to the conclusion that men have absolutely nothing to contribute and will usually do it either to protect their privilege or get laid (I know it’s a bit ironic, but I don’t exclude myself from that statement). Thank you for pointing out a whole new way in which this is true. Do any of you remember the bizarre video where two New Agers “apologized” to all women? It’s funny how everyone understood right away that it was self-serving, sexist nonsense.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K_uRIMUBnvw

    Also, I can’t believe how many people are coming here to say that they don’t “get it” and that porn is great. Don’t they realize what blog they’re on? Can’t they at least read Feminism 101 before making such silly comments?

  • Bonnie

    Thank you, Meghan.

  • Bonnie

    I just watched that Youtube video. It was hysterical.

    • Komal

      I just watched the first 10 seconds and closed it. It was too irritating. But sadly, many women encourage this sort of thing by using terms like ‘the feminine’ (*barf*), ‘the Divine feminine’, etc. etc. I’ve encountered more than one ecofeminist who insists that gender essentialism is good, as long as it elevates femininity and involves valuing women.

  • “Cycles of the moon” ha ha ha ha! Luckily, I’ve never met a guy like this.

  • pisaquari

    I really feel feminists need to write one of these letters and release it Officially every few years (okay–more often *ideally*, but considering the attention spans of chill-dudes who spend most of their time perusing dating sites for “ethnic/international women”…).

    And Meghan, you’ve got my vote for the most current Official Letter.

    My only suggestion would be to add a comparison picture at the top: New Age Dude lounging in his upcycled recliner in Best Gal Pal’s basement apt she pays for with 3 part-time jobs/ Gold-Parachtuted Former CEO [of Bank] sipping cocktails in his TARP-funded yacht. Marijuana or a Fat Cigar, smoke gets in your eyes.

  • Komal

    What do you think about women who also believe in magical, special femininity and engage in goddess-worship? The ecofeminists and difference feminists are like that. When you try to reason with them, they won’t listen, because reason is apparently ‘masculine’ and patriarchal.

    I find that femininity-worship more often emanates from women and trans women than any other group. Such women have done more to make me want to distance myself from feminism than anyone else.

    • Meghan Murphy

      I don’t know enough about goddess-worship to have an opinion, really, but I do get that icky feeling anytime “feminine energy” is mentioned. Femininity-worship is a little misguided, in my opinion, but that tends to be where people go before they’ve put much thought into gender / feminism or when they feel a need to justify their own socialization in a way that feels empowering rather than critical, on a personal level. Like I said, misguided.

      • Hari B

        Loved your piece on these New Agey ‘womyn lovers’/misogynists-in-disguise, Meghan. Oh yeah, definitely met too many of them in my day!

        As for this exchange between you and Komal…wow. “but that tends to be where people go before they’ve put much thought into gender / feminism or when they feel a need to justify their own socialization in a way that feels empowering rather than critical, on a personal level. Like I said, misguided.” Pretty condescending, and not at all accurate as an assessment of such womyn on the whole. In fact, pretty highly insulting to this womyn, who came of age on the gender/feminism of the 60s-70s and has now had quite a bit more time than you, I daresay, to have explored that and a whole lotta life, theory, and science in the meantime than you have.

        So–you, and *some* others have decided that Real Feminism is entirely grounded in ‘socialized gender politics’, and with that have chosen to believe that there are absolutely NO differences between womyn and men that aren’t entirely created from gender-politics–and because you believe what you believe, anyone with other thoughts in her head is ‘misguided’? She just probably needs to find *some way* to respect and elevate herself while remaining stuck inside patriarchy’s gender role–poor thing, she just doesn’t get it yet, ut we hope someday she will? Talk about ‘essentialist’!

        The hilarious (yet sad and outrageous) thing to me is that while you and others are busy feeling superior about all this, people like you and Komal are busy worshipping men and masculinist definitions of ‘intellect’ and other personal capacities, in the opinion of this feminist (and others who tend to think more like I do). You are busy agreeing that any reference to ‘femininity’ is BAD, and it seems you do this entirely reactively, not the least bit FULLY-rationally, however you try to dress it up. You do this because ‘the feminine’ was defined/confined by men in ways designed to demean and control us, to rationalize their domination of and violence against us. Well, I completely agree–any definition of ‘the feminine’ or ‘womyn’ that is created or upheld by men and the menstream must be most vigorously rejected by self-respecting feminists. I for one don’t know how any self-respecting feminist brings herself to listen to what men have to say about much of anything besides themselves.

        If you CHOOSE to have your opinion, I totally uphold and respect that right. And in my opinion, until you and others in your camp have really taken a serious look at what feminists like me have to say (that we have researched and applied HIGHLY sophisticated, rigorous rational analyisis to, because OF COURSE womyn are emininently capable of this–because it’s JUST NOT THAT HARD to do)…until you’ve taken a much closer, deeper and MUCH more respectful-of-womyn look at this other idea that you so clearly dismiss–well, in my opinion you are not so much a feminist. At all. You are just oppressed womyn who are still stuck on men and patriarchy, via reactivity. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that reaction and resistance are only the starting point of liberation (from anything, to anything). Getting one’s head out of reaction and into active, openminded exploration of ourselves in our own ways, and on our own terms, looking at all the evidence and deciding what it means for ourselves, is the way to become more whole and fully ourselves.

        Keep your opinion if it suits you–it’s what we all do. Just please, quit trying to make it sound like the ONLY opinion that matters–a patriarchal trait of dominance, and a rationalization for violence, if there ever was one.

        • Meghan Murphy

          I’m really not quite sure what you’re talking about, Hari. I’m also not sure why you are attacking me. I’ve made a statement that is true and I’ve said nothing to attack your opinion. In fact, I had no idea what your opinion was, was not responding to anything you said, because you had not said anything, and, truly, am still a little unclear on what your opinion is. It appears to me as though you are the one who is being condescending, claiming to have a more valid opinion because you have been around longer, and you don’t seem particularly interested in considering anything other than your own perspective. In any case, there really isn’t much of an argument to be had. I don’t think “femininity is bad” – that doesn’t even mean anything. Femininity, as I state below, is not a real thing. It is invented and learned. Who is it that is being “reactive,” here, really?

        • Komal

          Neither Meghan nor I worship men… what a ridiculous accusation to make of us. I do not consider intellect to be a male thing, and if it is ‘masculine’ in the sense that in patriarchal ideology it is defined as ‘masculine’, then that just means that at least one masculine thing is good.

          It’s a pretty bad idea to base your values on what is ‘male’ or masculine. It is a bad idea to value something just because it is what men tend to do, and it is equally bad to devalue it or to seek its opposite because it’s what men do. If you’re defining your values in terms of what men do, then that’s a problem.

          • ned

            Disliking something just because men (or whites, or whoever) came up with it is just the genetic fallacy. If we were to extend this kind of separatist mindset to race, for instance, I should have just stayed in my country and not come to graduate school in Canada to get what an education in Western science, which I like even though it comes out of the Western intellectual tradition and not out of my own South Asian intellectual traditions. I don’t resent whites for having a strong scientific tradition.

      • Hari B.

        Great post,Meghan–I’ve known just the kind of dude you’re talking about.

        But this? “Femininity-worship is a little misguided,…but that tends to be where people go before they’ve put much thought into gender / feminism or when they feel a need to justify their own socialization in a way that feels empowering rather than critical, on a personal level. Like I said, misguided.” So condescending, not to mention very poorly-informed. You don’t have to agree with anyone else’s choices–what I really don’t get is where the need to be so superior and dismissive comes from. Especially when it’s so clear that you and those who agree with you haven’t really taken a serious look at the perspective you’re dissing. Same tactics of domination, and rationalization of erasure, that is patriarchy’s standard fare against womyn.

        Is it really necessary to go there, in order to maintain confidence in your particular take on feminism? How about a little more respect, including the self-respect of being above the need to condescend to those you disagree with.

        • Meghan Murphy

          I’m not being condescending. Femininity isn’t a real thing. It is invented. It is learned. No one, therefore, is ‘naturally’ feminine or masculine because femininity and masculinity are not real / natural things. It isn’t a ‘perspective’. It is simply what is true. Who is it that you believe I am disrespecting in saying this?

          • Hari B.

            First–my apology for 2 posts. I’d thought I deleted the first, longer one…apparently it got through after all.
            Not my intention.

            I do not consider ‘intellect’ to be a male thing! I very much DO consider that accepted definitions and expressions of ‘intellect’ are dominated by patriarchal terms.

            riv, see, that’s what squashes discourse and I must say I’m somewhat astonished–even embarrassed for feminsim–that seeming feminists so readily, so reflexively, degenerate into dominance appropriation and expression such as your comment (and Meghan’s on ‘misguided’–which she cannot see as condescending). Assuming you know what is ‘clear’ and what is ‘confused’ Assuming you know what I’m talking about when you don’t–and especially, the application of pity. It doesn’t get more condescending than that. Sheesh. Have womyn not yet had enough of this bullshit? Apparently not. Apparently the only way to get ‘free’ and be ‘successful’ is to adopt the tactics of the oppressor.

            But I will leave off. No point in arguing this here.

          • Meghan Murphy

            Hari, if we are wrong about the points you are trying to make (as you say: “Assuming you know what I’m talking about when you don’t”), perhaps you might think about clarifying your points? It seems as though you are continuing to make attacks here without actually engaging with what has been said.

        • riv

          Hari is confusing female with femininity, male with masculinity. Poor diddums.

      • Not sure why people are hating on you Meghan… I totally agree with your assessment that New Agey goddess-worship is an escape from having to think about feminist issues. I don’t see how anyone can listen to these bozos in the video and not realize that…

    • Evie

      I find it dehumanizing in general. When it comes from women, I see it as an attempt to regain lost self-esteem, but still ultimately limiting. Sure, the qualities deemed “feminine” have been cast negatively, but they are human qualities, not feminine ones. Identifying women with them just allows men to further distance themselves from them, and strengthens the pressure on women to be “feminine”. Not cool.

  • riv

    Oh there are some things so wONDERful about being old. The entree is the same but the sauce changes: they hold doors open for me, feign exaggereated gallantry. I ignore it and let the door slam in their faces while I go in the other side. Etc.

    I came here to thank you for your posts over at POCO. I too think they should have started the column with a WOC blogger. NOTE. W…OC and continued primarily with W…OC columnists. And for the rare guest blogger WOW (haha) blogger they could do no finer than to invite you Megan. But in matters such as feminist and women’s liberation discussions, and especially when they understand how foolish it is to have a White person ‘splaining about Black anything, could they please apply the same rules to Mansplainers, including, Black Mansplainers? What irony. Feminism, by ernesto.

    Yes, I’m “white.”
    No, I’m not white.

    I’m Metis, one of the millions majority on this Earth who are not Black American.

  • riv

    Edit: Should have said “millions majority of (POC) persons on this Earth who are not Black Americans”. (We don’t use POC in Canada, or at least, not until recently. It’s an Americanism.).

  • Omnia Vanitas

    Not to stray too far, but just briefly, I don’t like the term “people of colour” and I find it really racist, as it lumps all ethnicities other than white ones into the same group; like, there are white people and then there are … the rest, the “people of colour.” It also focuses on skin colour rather than ethnicity. Which I find weird. I know it serves as a quick and handy phrase, but is anyone else creeped out by it?? I am always surprised when black women use that term to describe themselves and others (but apparently they’re fine with it?), and I think there should be a better way of expressing this. Also, the word “colour” just at least for me, echoes the ultra racist American “coloured” as in “coloured restroom”, and needless to say I find that equally creepy. It also sets up the same old white default, because it emphasizes the colourlessness of whites, i.e., because they are the default; similarly to how when people say “gender” they automatically think of women, but never men (women have gender but men don’t / people of colour have colour but whites don’t). Is it just me? Is there any other way we can express this? Food for thought. Anyway, that’s all! Back to topic!

    • Komal

      I do sometimes refer to myself as a POC but I’ve decided not to anymore. I’m not ‘creeped out’ by the term, but I find it too generalizing, and too much of a reaction to racism. It doesn’t feel that authentic to me. I refer to myself as non-white sometimes when talking about racism (in order to illustrate white privilege), e.g. ‘since I’m non-white, I do not benefit from white privilege’ (a very obvious statement, but it still needs to be made believe it or not). Otherwise I refer to myself by my ethnicity, which is Pashtun and Persian.

  • riv

    It just doesn’t apply to the majority of non-white people in the world. It’s really only for African American Black persons. But the fact they it continues to be used shows how exclusionary the thinking is, that is everyone who isn’t white must be a POC. First Nations people are not POC. We’re mixed race, no matter what our colour, but I’ll tell you we come in all shades. In my family of three children, we are one light, one white, one very dark brown, one of us blond and green eyed, and one with hair so tightly curled it cannot be combed. Same mother and father. Dene/Cree and European.

    If a website is only for African Americans, please say so. But if you mean, all people who are not white (by some definition) then understand that you are imposing “Black American” on us and denying us our culture and race.

  • Omnia Vanitas

    OK, I’ve heard Asians and others than black people refer to themselves as POC, so that’s why I assumed that it was meant for “all others than white.” If it is only for black people why not just say black people though? Anyway, I don’t want to totally veer off topic, I just wanted to put it out there to people to think about.

  • “It is very sexist against men.”

    I am guffawing on the floor. GUFFAWING.

  • “Um, actually, studies have shown that virtually ALL MEN watch/look at porn.”

    So it’s okay then? is that what you’re saying?

  • Omnia Vanitas

    By the way, just for the record, the studies I’ve seen say it’s more like 50/50

    I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find that the myth that it’s “virtually all” is propagated by so-called “sex” industry lobbyists in order to normalize it.

    I happen to know several men who don’t use porn. If I, one person knows them, then surely there are many, many more out there. I think this is just one of those propagandic “marketing” myths. Also, people who use porn want to believe that “everyone else” does it too. But it’s certainly not the case.

    • joy

      This is basically the comment I tried, but failed, to make above. Thanks!

      Probably a lot of the men who don’t watch porn are lying about not watching porn, and a lot more of them (as in, presumably all of them) have internalized a lot of misogynist and openly woman-hating shit whether they do watch porn or not. As radfems, we all know that.
      The point I think we’re both trying to make is — the statement “all men watch porn” does really read like Chapter 1, Page 1, Line 1 from the sex industry’s Handbook for Normalizing Industrial, Commodified Sexuality & Its Attendant Culture of Rape, Trafficking, and Abuse [TM].

      The following line (Chapter 1, Page 1, Line 2) would read, “So lighten up and either get on the bandwagon or STFU, prudes.”

    • Meghan Murphy

      Totally agree, Omnia. Most men I know watch porn, they certainly don’t feel any need to lie to me about it and, in fact, most of them are interested in hearing and learning more about a radical feminist analysis of porn. Some of them take action based on this analysis (i.e. try to curb their porn use) and some don’t. I don’t think we need to write these men off, necessarily, particularly if they want to listen and learn and think. The ones who are unapologetic, try to defend, or claim “all men watch porn and you are naive if you think otherwise” are the ones who are more likely to be a lost cause. There are a also a few men I know who don’t watch porn. They have no reason to lie about it to me and I think, in fact, that those who claim “all men watch porn” are, as you say “sex industry lobbyists” and men who simply want to normalize their own misogyny. They are not to be taken seriously as they clearly have no interest in thinking about anything beyond themselves and their own worldview.

    • That’s all well and fine, but all men objectify women in the same general fashion. All men masturbate, and what do you think they fantasize about when they do so? What do you think a man thinks when he sees a woman? I agree that probably as many men watch porn as don’t, especially in older age brackets, but that doesn’t mean there are “better” guys.

      • Meghan Murphy

        I’m not saying there are men out there who are, somehow, magically not impacted by patriarchy and haven’t learned the male gaze, but I am saying that to claim “all men watch porn” is not true, works to normalize porn and misogyny, and pretends as though women are naive and stupid. And actually I do believe that there are “better guys” – though I wouldn’t call them “better”, I’d call them men who don’t think women are fuckable holes or things to ejaculate onto.

        • riv

          Meghan I beg to differ, And one of the reasons I do take issue with your misplaced generosity toward males is that I have learned they lie, especially to women they haven’t ****** yet, or want to keep *******, and lie also by reclassifying porn as SEX.

          Porn becomes Sex, Consensual sex, Feminist Porn (sic). Or Eroticism. Or Couple porn (sic).

          Women ask your “Nigel” what he classifies as porn. And what he doesn’t.

          • Meghan Murphy

            “Misplaced generosity?” Because I don’t think all men are liars and consumers of porn? I don’t think that’s either misplaced or generous. All men aren’t liars. Period. I agree that most men do view porn as sex and that many tend to think that if they choose “ethical porn” or “feminist porn” (which, as far as I’m concerned, is nonexistant), it is fine, but I certainly don’t think that all men in the world are liars. What would you say about Robert Jensen? Is he simply lying about his views on pornography?

      • Le Derp

        Are you serious? Not all men masturbate and not all men are attracted to women. Are you capable of thinking logically at all? Is this all going over your head?

        • You keep peppering this discussion with incredulous comments. One has to wonder what your point is, doing this when one comment would have sufficed.

          “Not all men masturbate”

          Okay, admittedly there are paraplegics and other people who just can’t physically do it. Are you happy now? You’ve diverted the conversation because you whined long enough about a universal. That seems to be a standard male tactic…
          You get a friggin’ pizza trophy, dude.

          “not all men are attracted to women.”

          No shit, Sherlock.

          • Le Derp

            Well, if you know that not all men are attracted to women, then your original premise is false and so is your whole point.

          • Nope… sorry. Now stop diverting.

      • The same thing applies to women.

  • This article argues against aa one in a million archetype personality or probably more accurately, a figment of the author’s imagination. I don’t consider this article to be from a “feminists” perspective, its totally unhinged & probably backward. I truly don’t understand why in a society where the pay gap is wide & pretty much none of our so-called leaders do anything substantative about it, a world where women are mutilated at birth in many instaces, a world where more women than ever are sold into sex-slavery, in a world like this, why attack a caricature of some horny confused person who lives on a beach & likes surfing? Then consider it feminism, what gives?

    • Meghan Murphy

      Oh good. The old THERE-ARE-BIGGER-PROBLEMS-OUT-THERE-IN-THE-WORLD-BABIES-ARE-DYING-WHY-ARE-YOU-TALKING-ABOUT-THIS derail. Not responding. Try again.

  • Milly

    There are also many more men who don’t live up to the “sex” mad male stereotype than the lie that all men watch porn and all men masturbate (onanism ain’t for everyone) suggests. Men can find porn distasteful, even without ever being exposed to a rad fem analysis and without having religious or morally conservative “sex is dirty” reasons to do so. Not sure how those men get made, but I do know a few and they have no reason to lie about it either. That’s not to say that all men don’t benifit from male supremacy derived from cultural narratives that posit women as the sex class which is reinFORCED by the operation of pornstitution. Anyway, I would argue that men who view lots of porn have little appetite for sex and in fact have a greater appetite for dominance, attached to but also overriding any natural sex drive.

    Who knows what men and women’s drive to express themselves sexually would look like if we didn’t have all this patriarchal cultural baggage attached to our sexual selves. All men are somewhat tainted by patriarchal dye, though some more heavily than others and all human beings probably have a fairly wide range in their natural sexual appetites, just like any other human appetite.

    • “There are also many more men who don’t live up to the “sex” mad male stereotype than the lie that all men watch porn and all men masturbate (onanism ain’t for everyone) suggests. ”

      So let’s look at a few exceptions rather than focusing on the bigger picture. I call men such as these the exceptions that prove the rule. Why focus on the exceptions when all men (and women, though in a different way) are influenced by porn culture?

      • Milly

        You’re right of course, they are exceptions. And we shouldn’t be focussed on them. But it does help ( me anyway) to acknowledge they exist, because it gives me hope that men are capable of change. And sometimes I need a little bit of hope 🙂

      • It is good to point out these exceptions if only to remind heterosexual women that this is not just the way things are and they have to deal with it – there are viable options to porn conformity, and they they are not doomed to a life without partnership. It will also give a lot of women the courage to speak up and support anti-porn feminist efforts.

    • Victoria W.

      http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/relationships/sex/sex-sexuality/our-lusty-behaviour-science-tries-to-explain-sex-and-love/article2292830/

      And please spare me the arts-student meta-critique of “science.”

      ***

      “Another unexpected finding, this one from an Emory University study regarding porn: Women rated pornographic images as subjectively more sexually arousing than men did.

      Women have been taught to believe they’re not supposed to watch porn, that it’s not supposed to be part of female sexuality and that there’s something anti-feminist about it. What scientists have discovered is that the brain is really hardwired for porn. We are very interested in sexual images, much in the way that we’re interested in pictures of food.

      What lit up in women’s and men’s brains when they looked at porn?

      The researchers saw higher activation in the men in both the amygdala and the hypothalamus, two areas involved in sex and emotional processing. When they examined what the participants were actually looking at using eye tracking software, there was no significant difference between men and women. Nobody really liked the close up, crazy genital shots.

      • But what kind of porn were they watching? Content and context matter.

      • Additionally, the quote of the second paragraph is not from one of the researchers, but the author’s own speculation – not science at all. I’d be interested in seeing the specifics of the actual study.

      • Meghan Murphy

        @Victoria – I think the problem here is that you are making an argument based on the idea that people (women included) are turned on by sexual imagery. But no one is arguing that. I don’t have a problem with “sexual imagery”. I have a problem with pornography, the sexualization of inequity / graphic sexually explicit subordination of women. So no one is arguing that women ‘shouldn’t’ watch porn or don’t watch porn because women are not sexual people, but rather that pornography has defined sex – so people think porn = sexuality, which is why some women think that, to watch porn is somehow a feminist or liberating act – because they are framing it as anti-repression and ‘pro-sex’. People learn what to be turned on by, they learn what sex is – if they are presented with images of male domination as something that should turn them on then I don’t really think it’s surprising that they would be ‘turned on’ by this. I don’t think that our response should be: “oh well, their brain likes this. Whatcanyado.” Rather I think we need to differentiate between “sexual imagery” and porn. Yes, people are turned on by people they are physically attracted to, that doesn’t mean that porn isn’t destructive and sexist.

      • pisaquari

        “What scientists have discovered is that the brain is really hardwired for porn.”

        What scientists have *discovered* is what early learning theorists/marketers/sociologists/psychologists/[name your human sciences profession] knew all along: people express desire for what they have been taught to desire.

        “We are very interested in sexual images, much in the way that we’re interested in pictures of food.”

        Goodness, this is a limited statement.

        Had you shown a picture of a hamburger (or countless OTHER contemporary meal concoctions) to early human civilization they would have been *baffled* and, rest assured, no pavlovian-type response emitted. Show an American meat-eater a hamburger? Probably, quite different. (Of course, as an American vegan I can guarantee you, even with a long history of being a burger-eater, this does NOT make me hungry or cause me to salivate).
        And, of course, there are a whole bunch of *other* factors (hunger, belief systems, recent food poisoning from a certain “food”, etc) that affect one’s reaction to the images of “food”.

        And same the goes for “sexual imagery.” What passes for porn today is not what passed for porn in yester years or even for a contemporary, random sample of porn users (how many lesbians really want to see “the money shot”??). Fetishes are another quick and easy example. Photos of feet? Doesn’t do a THING for a lot of people. Some people, as I’ve read, really like big balloons. Balloons, as wikipedia seems to suggest, did not even exist until 1824. But, hey, betcha the Balloon Fetishist Forums gotta whole buncha “I was turned on by balloons since before I can remember! Hard-wired!”. Phew!—good thing they were born AFTER the invention of the object required for their “hard-wired” sex life.

        Which is all to say that how food and sex are *defined* (/conditioned, presented, perpetuated, reacted to) for any group of people will be what said people seek to emulate or enjoy via images–IF the images are available and IF the society is image-based< ALSO a relatively new feature of human society, no matter how many ancient, crumbling and male-misunderstood statues, scripts and artifacts you wanna drudge up. (As a radical feminist, I will have to note the inherent sado-masochist nature that all-or most, but let’s not have the great Sliver Debate-porn, fetish and penetrative practices spiral out from).

        Food and sex, thus, are NOT static entities or definitions. They are in flux and the array of human definitions/ideas of what constitutes each, at any given time, are a testament to that fact.

        And while physiological responses may be constant (hunger or sexual arousal equaling stimulated parts of the body and brain), we cannot conclude as narrowly as science does that: stimulation by [factor X] = hard-wiring for [factor X]. That is beyond the pale of NOT THINKING and it needs to stop now.

        Of course, what all this suggests is that humans are highly mutable creatures and that we have been enjoying our duping for a really long time. Yes, but don’t be such a pessimist.
        It also means we have the capacity to live in ways that condition egalitarianism into our daily functions or social structures (to the extent a social structure needs to exist), until a more organically egalitarian society can come to exist. It also means, in the meantime, that we must search for that *way of life* that can address these problems head on, refuse to ingest or regurgitate, and offer a way of relating to our world (planet, people and the molecules of each unseen) in a genuinely harmonious way not yet offered by mystics, religions, government, media or economic systems.

        Which is why, and in conclusion, I believe Radical Feminism to be the most important and progressive philosophy/worldview/lifestyle/etc to ever grace this male-forsaken planet.

        <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3

      • Sabrina L.

        I think a part of this phenomenon is internalized misogyny. Women are taught to view ourselves as objects, and derive a large part of our value from being the sexiest objects we can be, right? We know good and well what a sexy female looks like because we’re often busy hating ourselves for not living up to that. We train ourselves to look at ourselves, other women, even our world view through the male gaze. If we watch porn, we’re seeing a symbol of sex (a woman) doing sexual things. Plus, she’s likely moaning and writhing since her job is to pretend she’s deriving pleasure, so is it much of a stretch to identify with her (supposed) arousal? Still means we’re viewing her as an object of sex, just like we view ourselves. That’s misogenistic in of itself.
        I will share what really woke me up on an emotional level about pornography’s insidiousness. I accepted pornography as an inextricable part of our culture, accepted men’s inevitable usage, and watched it myself sometimes for my own arousal. I figured I just wouldn’t be turned on by the truly degrading stuff, since I wouldn’t want to identify with someone in pain or being insulted, so I wasn’t buying that all pornography was degrading. The argument about women being objectified seemed kind of abstract still, but I continued reading about the feminist perspective, trying to understand even if I couldn’t fully relate. Then I came across a certain description of just a small bit of porn “script.” It was a from a scene that involved several men with one woman. They were talking over her, to each other for the most part, refering to her with the worst of epithets, discussing with chuckles how exactly what they were doing was going to distort her body’s orfices, and expressing absolute disgust that this thing actually was liking what they were doing to her.
        And I felt myself get turned on.
        I’ll say that again.
        I FELT MYSELF GETTING TURNED ON, reading this.
        Masochistic, much? Why would I want to be identifying with this verbally, physically and emotionally abused woman? More to the point, how could I have previously not seen this kind of scene as degrading and woman hating?
        I think it’s safe to say that I internalized the pornographic narrative (As Andrea Dworkin described it: “She wants it, they all do.”) and decided that’s what my sexuality must be. Because all women are masochists, right? That’s the feminine thing to be, after all.
        …but not the feminist thing.

  • “Okay, admittedly there are paraplegics and other people who just can’t physically do it. Are you happy now? You’ve diverted the conversation because you whined long enough about a universal. That seems to be a standard male tactic…
    You get a friggin’ pizza trophy, dude.”

    Whoaaa…what about asexual men? WOW, forgot about them, didn’t ya? Not all asexual folks masturbate, INCLUDING asexual men…those folks who don’t experience sexual attraction (some or all of the time) and MANY (as i have spoken to many in the community) do not masturbate because they never felt inclined to do so, and if they do, many in the community don’t use porn to achieve physical release. Pretty limited perspective if “all men masturbate” and “All men watch porn” or “all men masturbate unless they are paraplegic” — baffled.

  • “But what kind of porn were they watching? Content and context matter.”

    Women’s bodies are used either way, regardless of content, to arouse and create financial capital…

    • That’s true, but do you disagree that content is going to make a difference in how arousing porn is to women? To say, “Women like porn”, because one showed them a softcore sample that is not representative of the bulk of what the porn industry puts out is disingenuous. That was my point.

  • Bonnie

    Meghan, you are so right. I am told (and I believe) that neurologists have done studies that show that watching pornography actually changes brain chemistry. Therefore, the viewer becomes less satisfied with realistic sexual images, and his (or her) brain begins to insist on pornographic images. Therefore when we say that men or women “like” watching pornography–which came first? The watching or the liking?

  • Milly

    Also, how is arousal being measured in these studies? Women have been shown to become aroused by pornagraphic images they later describe as stupid and degrading (Natalie Angier, Woman an Intimate Geography). Women also experience arousal before rape. A defense mechanism of the body to minimize harm. What’s going on in the body does not necessarily reflect what’s going on in the head.

  • riv

    I frankly don’t believe women like watching pornography *for the pornography*. They LIKE the attention and approval they get from Nigel of the Moment, or men in general. Of course, you can subvert the sexual response, which is why we are so concerned when a woman is raped, or a child is molested or raped by a pedophile. We know the harm is there long after the tissue heals, and the victim will recreate his sick scenario throughout their lives, with themselves dissociating and being harmed, over and over. Wait. Did I just describe heterosexual sex?

    • riv

      Typo: Should read “the victim will recreate this sick scenario”. not “his” sick scenario.

  • Johnny

    Yeah, god forbid you tell a woman to chill out. No matter what she’s saying or how she’s behaving.

    • Meghan Murphy

      The point is that, in this case, “chill out” was used (and is, very often used) to belittle and to dismiss comments on sexist behaviour. The point is that, in terms of what I and Yashar Ali are getting at is that men dismiss women’s voices and experiences in this way in order to avoid taking responsibility for their own behaviour and to silence women. In my case, I was perfectly “chill” until someone told me to “chill out”. Telling women they are overly “emotional” or “sensitive” is making use of a tired sexist stereotype (and it’s straight up lazy), but it’s also oppressive.

      • Bonnie

        You are absolutely right, Meghan.

  • Johnny isn’t gettin’ it….lolz

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  • Matt Johnson

    Interesting read. I think a lot of men have a hard time trying to be what they perceive women want them to be. Loving people for who they truly are sometimes involves accepting when they do and don’t meet the perception of the stereotype of their gender. I’d love to read a positive piece on how a heterosexual man can be a great feminist. It’s clear we often fail. But, as often is the case, prejudice isn’t corrected with more prejudice but rather with justice. Do people keep up with blogs they wrote 4 years ago? Have your views changed since you wrote this?

    • Tired feminist

      I smell a new agey dudey in this comment…

    • grandma hotdog

      I seriously can’t believe you #notallmen’d this article

  • MotherBear84

    Yup. I knew a New Age Dude who looooved to give hugs to every person (um…to every woman) he met. He, ah…hugged by leading with his pelvis. Creepy beyond belief. Would not allow himself to be called on it.