It is ‘all men’: Our culture of predatory misogyny

You know how they are telling you that it is “not all men?”

That men like Jian Ghomeshi are a terrible exception and if we as men simply stand up and say we are not as bad as that, or that we are not rapists or do not beat “our” girlfriends or that we show that it is not men, generally, who are violent and abusive, but only “bad” men?

Well that is bullshit.

It is all men. We, collectively, and most commonly as individuals, are responsible for creating the conditions that not only facilitate Ghomeshi, but that ensure he will exist.

This is a very uncomfortable and inconvenient truth. It is all men and the society that they produced that allowed a misogynist, alleged serial abuser to rise to and feel comfortable within the halls of media and fame, despite the now known and clear indications that he was a predator all along and that many, many people could have done something about it but did not.

The people who knew did not care. He was famous. He was a celebrity in our eyes. He had very real institutional power. And so, as is increasingly clear, even though everyone on the inside seemingly either “knew” or had an inkling that he was a predator, no one did anything.

No one did anything.

And this does not at all surprise me. Despite all the protestations to the contrary, this is as old as male patriarchal power and is entirely predictable in a male supremacist “culture” of institutionalized pornography and prostitution and of male violence and sexual power as an accepted norm.

The very nature of systemic oppression means there are no “good guys.” We have all, especially as men, participated in the “locker room” or trash-talking objectification of women and in the creation of a culture and context in which a Ghomeshi would feel right at home.

All men know this if they are choosing to be remotely honest. The belief that men are entitled to women and the reality of porn culture and its degradation of women is a fact that every heterosexual male has encountered and lived in.

All men enable predators like Ghomeshi in a collective sense. They enable this by being the overwhelming percentage of sexual predators (to the point where female sexual predators are statistically insignificant). They enable this by being the overwhelming users of the oppressive institutions of pornography and prostitution.

We are told, by men and apologists for the “industry,” that pornography or prostitution are a “job” like any other when even a cursory trip through internet pornography or the racialized and marginalized facts about prostitution show that this is a total lie.

Violent, degrading, ugly pornography is the norm, not the exception. This is rather easily proven, but seldom acknowledged. Why we would anticipate that many men born of this culture of violent, degrading pornography would behave any differently when it comes to “real life” is mystifying to me.

The power relations that lead from a culture of pornography to Jian Ghomeshi are direct and clear except to liberals and the willfully blind. This is why he could claim to be a feminist while behaving as he did.

He was a “feminist” in male terms. Women’s “liberation” was refracted in his mind through his needs as a sexual predator and his needs as a man.

When men chose — and it is a ¬†choice — to use and enable prostitution and pornography as some sort of “human right” or lifestyle decision divorced from its broader implications socially, they guarantee the perpetuation of violence against women and the objectification and commodification of women.

Given the fact that misogynist predators like Bill Cosby, R Kelly, Woody Allen and many others can continue to be famous, respected and embraced as “artists” despite the established reality of what they have done to women and girls, why would anyone be either surprised by Ghomeshi and his enablers or the fact that he got away with it for so long?

He got away with it because he was a famous and powerful man in a society that not only glorified him as such but that regarded his female victims as irrelevant chattel, as is so often the case with men in media, politics or business.

It is all men who allow this. We are responsible. Until we acknowledge and act on this fact another “famous” predator like Ghomeshi is simply a very short news cycle away.

Michael Laxer lives in Toronto where he runs a bookstore with his partner Natalie. Michael has a Degree in History from Glendon College of York University. He is a political activist, a two-time former candidate and former election organizer for the NDP, is a socialist candidate for Toronto City Council in 2014, and is on the executive of the Socialist Party of Ontario.
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