Trigger Warning for Rape Apologism, Rape Culture, Misogyny and the endorsement of sexual violence against women
There are still a lot of things in this world I don’t understand and probably never will. One of these things is not a thing, but a person. That person is Paul Elam.
If you don’t know who Paul Elam is, he runs a lovely little website called A Voice For Men. This is a site for men’s rights activists, where like-minded people can go to discuss the various areas in which men are receiving the shortfall in a calm, reasoned manner and work towards viable, helpful solutions.
Or it would be, if it totally wasn’t.
As most people will know by now, a large chunk of MRA sites (that I’ve seen) aren’t so much about men’s rights as they are about anti-feminism. They incorrectly assume that any problems there are against men are the fault of feminism, and that feminists actually wield all the power now and are slowly but surely eliminating men from the face of the earth. This is strange, because I honestly had no idea that the world had accepted feminism so completely; hell, I didn’t even realise we had power in a governmental sense, but we do. That would explain why I live on the internet rather than spending my days cackling and penting my fingers over the latest misandrist legislation with my feminazi sisters and mangina subservients. Oh, wait.
So our good friend Paul has written an article called ‘The unspoken side of rape.’ I couldn’t bring myself to link it, but I suggest you go read it if you can stomach the whole thing. Just make sure you thoroughly gird your loins before you do, because it’s really a very difficult read. It begins with Mister Elam explaining that because he went out with a woman that liked rough sex once, he is now the be all and end all expert on female sexuality. He knows, you see, that rape is bullshit, and he’s going to tell us why.
Basically, the ‘unspoken side of rape’ is that there is no rape.
The biggest problem I and most reasonable people will have with this article is that Elam creates a false equivalency between rape and sexual domination. In his mind, all, and I mean all women love to be sexually dominated by men, and when women are raped they have their self-esteems validated. To Elam, rape is good for women because it makes them feel more attractive. In fact, women need to be sexually dominated because it’s in their nature, and it’s just so flattering when someone fails to respect their rights and wishes in favour of their own gratification. Someone like Andrea Dworkin, meanwhile, is clearly lying when she says she was raped because, in his own charming words, she is a “300+ lb. basilisk of man-hate (with) a face big enough and pockmarked enough to be used to fake a lunar landing. Her body was roughly the size and shape of a small sperm whale.” She must have constructed the rape in order to convince others that she is desirable to men. It is the only logical answer.
For a guy so concerned with the ‘epidemic’ of false rape allegations against men, this is an awfully hypocritical thing to come out with. By his logic, Andrea Dworkin is, in fact, too ugly to be raped. He also extends this to members of Slut Walks, calling them ‘unfuckable,’ which is rich considering that a good chunk of Slut Walkers are rape victims. But hey, this is Paul Elam. We’re not in Kansas anymore with this guy.
Do you see the problems emerging here? This is hate speech, right? Paul Elam seems that think that rape is, in fact, a part of healthy relations with the opposite sex. To be fair to the guy, he’s just as bad for insulting all men too, if only by proxy. In his confusing mind, men are all sexually dominant, selfish beasts that have rights to a woman’s body no matter what the stupid bitch says. God knows what he thinks of sexually submissive men (I guess they’re about as real to him as rape is). Women don’t know their own minds, guys, only men know women’s minds.
But here’s where things get really baffling.
“Feminists have been highly offended by the realities of human nature since the first time Abigail Adams asked John to tie her to the bed frame and force a cod piece up her poop shoot.”
Hey, Paul, you know what the operative word in this sentence is? Asked. You have inadvertently blown a huge, gaping hole in your argument already and you don’t even realise it. It doesn’t matter if Abigail Adams was tied to the bed and engaged in anal sex with John, what matters is that she asked for it to happen. If a woman wants to be sexually dominated, then she will consent to that sexual domination. If she doesn’t want it, she won’t consent, and if the person she’s with decides to ignore that, then it’s rape. It’s as natural to not want sex as much as it is to want it.
It all boils down to this: no man should ever presume to know what women want, because they’re not women. It would be the same if it were a man telling another man how he should behave, or acting like his feelings are irrelevant because they don’t fit in with some bullshit machismo image of men as a whole. A man’s opinion of a woman’s sexual desires is not automatically above the opinions of the woman herself. As a woman, I don’t claim to know what men want or act like my understanding of men is somehow more informed than their understanding of men themselves.
This is common sense. I don’t tell men how they should feel or what they should want because I’m not qualified to speak for every single man on the planet, and yet time and time again we find articles on sites like A Voice For Men, that are about women and written by men. These articles claim to have the key to the female psyche, making grand proclamations that ‘all women really want this…’ and ‘when a woman says this, what she means is that.’ There’s no nuance, no real understanding to be found.
Well I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sick of it. I’m sick of people thinking they know more about me than I do. I’m sick of men trying to justify the sexual assault of women because, to their minds, ‘all women secretly want to be dominated by men.’ I’m sick, sick, sick of it, and here’s why.
I am 24 years old. I lost my virginity when I was 20. The delay in my sexual awakening can be attributed to many external factors: poor self-esteem, fear of intimacy, and the fact that I’ve never felt in control of my own body. I still don’t, not really, no matter how much I’ll defend a woman’s right to her autonomy. There’s this small, niggling voice inside me telling me that actually, my body isn’t mine, and there’s another part of me telling me that the small, niggling voice is right. I have spent the entirety of my life being told by other people what I can and can’t do with my body.
My own mother told me that I could be beautiful, if only I lost weight. I’m still fat, and pretty much incapable of taking any kind of compliment. I don’t even think of myself as attractive.
Kids at school publicly shamed me in P.E because “Jackers (my stupid nickname that followed me throughout my school life), you’ve got one tit bigger than the other.”
My so-called friend told me that I was frigid and ‘needed to get laid.’
My ex-boyfriend told me that ‘four months waiting was long enough’ and that I needed to get over it and fuck him, because he wanted to fuck me.
Another ex-boyfriend, who I thought understood, told his friends about my perpetual virginity. His friends then called me, actually called me on my mobile phone, to ask me when I was going to have sex with him.
I was rejected by someone I liked because they didn’t want the ‘responsibility’ of dating a virgin (I’m not even kidding).
I was made to feel wrong because I wanted to wait for the right person. I didn’t want to throw my virginity away. It wasn’t for religious or moral reasons, not at all, I just viewed sex as something incredibly intimate, and not something I wanted to do with just anyone. I don’t care what other people do in the bedroom, but for some reason everyone seemed to be fascinated by what was (or wasn’t) going on in mine. I was frigid, but if I’d given in to what everyone else wanted then I would have been a slut.
Go fucking figure.
So I didn’t actually go the whole hog until I met my current boyfriend, who I have been with for almost five years now. I knew, immediately, that he was the one I was going to sleep with. It was instinctive. I waited a while, though, a few months, to make sure it was what I wanted. He didn’t pressure me, not once. Let me tell you what’s great for a woman’s self -esteem: being treated with respect and dignity. My boyfriend loves all the parts of my body I hate the most, he thinks I’m beautiful even after all this time together, even after all the insistence on my part that I’m not. The amount of times I’ve said “I’m not special, I’m not pretty, I can’t do anything,” and he’s still stuck by me.
Let me ask you: were these the thoughts and actions of a woman that secretly wants to be raped?
Of course not, because no woman wants to be raped. That’s why it’s called rape. Even women who have rape fantasies view them in a completely different way to an actual rape; consent is still required to act out a fantasy, even if in that fantasy you have no control. But then I guess that concept is too hard for Elam to grasp.
We women are in fact, multi-faceted and complex creatures, but not in such a way that we should be feared or hated. We have likes and dislikes and loves and hates; some of us like to wear pink, some of us like to wear black, some of us like to watch wrestling, some of us like to play video games, some of us like listening to pop music. We have favourite foods and bands and books. We have male friends and we have female friends. We are cis and trans. We have different body shapes and different backgrounds and different histories. Some of us like sex, some of us don’t, and when we do we like all kinds of things. There is no such thing as a ‘true woman.’ None of us are the same.
Just like men.
For all these hate sites (and they are hate sites, don’t try and deny it), women are the same, whilst men are diverse and different and interesting and powerful. Women are bitches. Women are whores. Women are frigid, money-grabbing soul-suckers that want nothing more than a good raping by a dominant man because no matter how hard we try, we can’t mask our subservient natures with Feminazi rhetoric. That’s what women are to people like Paul Elam.
Have you ever noticed that with the majority of feminist sites, not all of them I grant you, but that depends on your school of feminism to begin with (I don’t think there are schools of MRA at this point- baby steps), tend to focus more on social influences and solutions? They ask questions about things, trying to delve deeper into the psyche of the cultures we live in, they look at how to change those things. Rather than claiming that ‘all men are like this’ and ‘all men think that,’ they ask ‘what makes some men think they can take what they want from women?’ and ‘why are women still seen this way?’
When we talk about rape, domestic violence, slut-shaming and so on, we look at the world around us for answers. The world influences us, shapes us and makes us who we are. If the world’s core is rotten, the people living on it become rotten too. If society teaches people not to get raped, rather than teaching people not to rape, we end up with skewed perceptions about what it really means to be raped, and we end up trivialising it to the point it might as well not be a crime at all. Because society tells us implicitly that the victim is at fault, we end up seeing it as true; so when a feminist or any kind of human rights activist challenges that worldview as morally wrong (because, let’s face it, it is), you will inevitably receive backlash from the people who have benefited the most from that rotten core to begin with.
Paul Elam doesn’t genuinely believe all women want to be raped (hey, he claims he knows what every woman ever thinks about their own autonomy. If he can speak for me I can speak for him), he simply doesn’t want to acknowledge that some men rape. Not all. Some. Elam is the kind of person that can’t accept any criticism of a culture that benefits him. In his mind, to do that is to besmirch the good name of men all over. He doesn’t understand the complexities of the world, or rather refuses to understand them. He wants a world where men are men (whatever that means) and women are women (likewise). He wants a world where men rape and don’t get punished, a world where men treat women like shit and women love them for it, i.e. a world that has never and never will exist. Unfortunately for him, the spectrum of human sexuality is broad and fascinating, and one that isn’t defined by gender. All kinds of people like all different kinds of things in the bedroom, what’s important is that what goes on in there is mutually wanted. Consent is a beautiful thing, even when it precedes having the shit fucked out of you. Acknowledging that rape exists isn’t sexism against men, because not all men are rapists. Some men are, but so are some women. Not all men are rapists and not all rapists are men, could I possibly be any clearer?
A Voice For Men’s tagline is ‘Compassion for boys and men.’ Instead, it should read ‘Excuses for boys and men at the expense of girls and women.’ There’s no compassion in this article, Paul, not for anyone. If there were, you’d understand the great harm you’re causing with your hateful, misogynist rhetoric. You’d understand that there are scores and scores of victims who have suffered unimaginable horror, who have struggled to recover, who have failed to recover through no fault of their own, who have been judged and mocked and punished for a crime that was committed against them. Rape, Paul, isn’t about sex, not at its core. This is what you have completely failed to see. Rape is an exertion of power over another. It is used as a weapon against women in war. It happens to women in short dresses. It happens to women in jogging pants. It happens to women without makeup. It happens to women in Burkhas. All women are at risk from rape. Every single one.
I do not want to view a man’s penis as a potential weapon. Paul Elam does. His penis is a weapon, and he delights in using it against women. MRAs like him don’t believe all women want to be raped; they just want to justify their own hideous treatment of women through pseudo-intellectual philosophising. It’s why they’re always talking about ‘the red pill’ like it actually means something, rather than being ripped straight from The Matrix, a movie also full of pseudo-intellectual philosophising. They talk like they’re privy to information us brainwashed masses aren’t, like they’re the only ones that know the truth, when in reality they know absolutely nothing.
And what’s worse, the ignorance is entirely willful.