Friday, July 11, 2008

As for all the Monday morning QBing on What It All Means, Dear (yes, still about Kyle Payne, that scumbag)

Purtek sums up my thoughts nicely:

yeah, I’m pretty wary of the kind of guy who dresses everything up in terms of just how completely he is going to save me, the one who seems just far too good to be true, the one who always knows exactly the right words and turns of phrase like maybe it’s actually kind of practiced…but “male feminists” categorically? Not the same thing. Because you know, the thing with predators is, if the red-flag-warning-sign for potential predator becomes “identifies as feminist” then real predator will shift identifiers, will find a new one, will adapt to the given situation.

...The delusion that we’ll find the marker, that we’ll be the ones to know, is only hurting us and making us more vulnerable to the one who doesn’t fit our assumptions.

This isn’t new. Kyle Payne reflects exactly what predatory behaviour has always reflected - predatory behaviour. Adaptation. Manipulation and deception. Showing people what they want to see. Not radical feminism, not pornography, not male feminism, not men in general, not feminism in general.

And I know I've sounded like I've been arguing from several directions on this. (I am large; I contain lunch; you got a problem with that?) I...yeah. I do go back and forth, a bit at least, wrt how "different" predators as such are from the general populace, and how one would tell such a thing.

As for the "male radical feminist" (or sympathizer/groupie) (all three at once, mind you) business:

Well, it's like this. I've only known (of) a handful of this rather rare and special breed. And even of the other half dozen or so I'm thinking of, I don't actually assume they've gone out and assaulted unconscious victims, okay.

Here's what originally skeeved me out about Payne's posts, -before- learning about the charges (I did find the blog randomly surfing, -then- googled his name and saw Eleanor's Trousers and the Iowa news story, had had no idea who he was before that):

* The super squeaky clean image combined with a strangely zealous focus on the dark, dirty, dangerous, depraved, disgusting. The fact that he was supposedly all about -purifying- the filth does -not- make me -less- suspicious. I gather that it does, for some people. And,, it just...people tend not to work that way. "You can't pray a negative." I mean, this is not news, this, that people who -obsessively- focus on getting -rid- of something Bad in other people -might just be- harboring it themselves. It doesn't ALWAYS mean that the anti-gay politician's going to be caught with a choirboy, or that the Temperance preacher has a stash of Scotch under the pulpit, but, well, I don't get how the general concept is exactly a -shock- to anyone at this point, you know?

* Yeah, and about that purification thing: -this- is actually why I don't trust this breed of male feminist, okay. Not because I don't think men can legimately be feminist, care about womens' rights, even be anti-porn (though, again, I get -real- suspicious of anyone who makes the latter the center of his activism -real- fast).

Because, the whole "I'm not worthy, I'm not worthy, grovel fawn (oh but by the way somehow I'm still grabbing the limelight and erasing your voice even as I beat my breast in self-abnegation)" = CREEPY, with a capital EEP.

at minimum, it's risible and doesn't actually help anything, because it's still relentlessly solipsistic. At worst? Well, you do figure: human beings being what they are, eventually, if one's martyrdom is NEVER properly appreciated by you UNGRATEFUL BASTARD PEOPLE, all that self-loathing -might- just suddenly snap outward one day and oooops, here comes nice, pathetic, humble little Marvin Milquetoast or Hubert Hairshirt with the kitchen cleaver.


See, I like people who have a healthy sense of self-preservation, me. Who -don't- make it all about themselves, but are also willing and able to cheerfully say, "You're not my table, sorry," when it really ISN'T, sometimes. And I do mean -cheerfully-, because getting overly defensive is another whole deal and, well, we've talked about this.

But, you know. I can't speak for anyone else, but personally, I don't -want- some dude I don't even know to wear sackcloth and ashes for my sake or the suffering of Class Woman or whatnot, ffs: what on earth good does that do? Do something -useful-, or at least--look, it's a nice day, go play in the sun. Be happy, Chuckles. At least -someone- should be. And it's a fuck of a lot more straightforward that way than, well...I've rambled about this.

* the I-express-my-anger-just-through-tears thing, which--cool, look, Noli Irritare Leones expanded on this, "Denying the Shadow."

To which I'll respond: It's not that I don't think a guy could react in sorrow to something he's "supposed" to get angry, to, ever. It's not even the skeeved out reaction I had to "lookit me, I'm weeping with sensitivity over these porn slides; I'm just THAT sensitive," which of course becomes a lot more darkly hilarious in light of the subsequent charges, that bit.

It was this bit, specifically:

For as long as I can remember, I have been told that I do not get
angry - as an activist, a friend, a lover, and as a colleague.

And, yeah, he goes on to explain no, it's not true, here's how, but I'm sitting here thinking: first of all, why is he telling us this? And then, if -everyone-, even your most intimate companions, notices this about your persona, and the following story is about how moved you are on someone else's behalf, but it's -not- about -anger- as such...well, effectively what he's saying is: no, he really -doesn't- get angry. At all.

Because, one gathers, among other things, that would be not only too traditionally masculine, but, perhaps, -selfish.- Which, he is not. Even if he -does- lose control of himself just like everyone else, every so often, it's in a -good cause- when he does it. For The Sake Of The Suffering Women, not himself. See. He -feels deeply-. Passionately, even. But he doesn't get -angry.- Certainly not so's his nearest and dearest would ever discern. He is the UBER Nice Guy, apparently.

Big ol' red flag here.

* The other thing about people who wear their uber-sensitivity on their sleeve: yes, it's true, there IS more of a taboo about men crying than there is for women, it's a point, sure. But...personally, I'd also have felt skeeved out reading that particular anger/tears story, written in the same way, from a woman. Maybe I would've speculated that there's some social conditioning going on in there if she didn't mention it, but ultimately? Yeah, there are good reasons to mistrust people who make a huge show of their supra sensitivity, sometimes.

Or, well. Particularly, in this way:

There's a book called "The Sociopath Next Door" by a Martha Stout. Less a clinical text than kind of a layperson's field guide to Dangerous And Skeevy People To Avoid. And while I still agree that no set of red flags is going to be 100% foolproof, and I do honestly see the danger that this, too, can be "othering" in a way that means "whew, the rest of us are off the hook," then, I DO still see the kind of red flags as laid out in frames like this more potentially useful than "see, I knew you couldn't trust a man/porn user/radical feminist."

Specifically, this piece of advice, paraphrased because I don't have it in front of me:

Someone who fucks you over and then (or simultaneously!) goes into poor-sensitive-piteous-me mode is someone to stay right the hell away from.

Because, it's a -great- weapon, or can be, crying. The classic misogynist trope is that women cry in order to manipulate, and often, yeah, that accusation IS an abuser move ("stop being so sensitive! stop crying, or I'll give you something to cry about!") But, truth is: yeah, tears/sensitivity CAN be a -great- tool in the arsenal of the predator: because most people, if they AREN'T predators themselves, DO lower their defenses when someone else (apparently) bares their throat. Kyle here demonstrates nicely, if perhaps not in the way he meant to, that indeed, it's not a gendered thing: men can use tears as a defense and weapon too, yes they can. So, thanks for that, Kyle. (You shitbag).

Mostly, I guess: if there's any lesson at all to be taken from this, and I'm not at all sure it does work out so neatly, it's: trust your instincts. Trust -yourself.- Just because someone says all the right things and meets all the right demographic boxes and all your friends think they're wonderful and they won awards and shit, doesn't mean you have to make yourself vulnerable to 'em if it doesn't feel right. Even if they're "nice guys." Even if they're "feminist." (Or aren't). Even if they're anti-porn. (Or aren't). Even if they speak with authority and a soft voice. Even, yes, if they're women.** And if it did feel okay and they blindsided you and fucked you over anyway, well, they're scumbags and that's all there is to it.

Beyond that?

"By their deeds you will know them."

**ETA: And here's why I have a problem with "oh, okay, the moral of the story is 'you can't trust any man, feminist or otherwise.'" Not because I think Evelina Giobbes are as statistically significant as Kyle Paynes--for one thing, I DGAS mostly about who's-got-it-worse stats, I say this to forstall.

Because, even if you don't give a shit about mens' tender fee-fees, whether as actual victim of crimes committed by men or women (yes, it does happen) or unjustly accused innocents, here's the thing: women do victimize women, too. And when you make it all about "right, we want this to be a SAFE space! No mens!" the implication, at the very least, is that women are safe because they're women.

Really, no.

And so what you get, besides the Giobbe case, are a lot of female on female abuse cases that are dismissed by the mainstream because, well, homos, what'd they expect + your basic misogyny, AND, then when the victim goes to her feminist/lesbian community for support, the same ones who were right there whenever a man was the abuser (hey, maybe that's how she hooked up with her current abusive female partner to begin with: nice trusted pillar of the anti-violence feminist community, just like Giobbe) are suddenly nowhere to be seen.

Because, women don't do that.

Because, if we can't trust one of our OWN, now, who CAN we trust?

Oh, yeah, and also, the partner can follow her to the DV shelter. Hell, she might actually -work at- the DV shelter. Certainly some of their mutual friends will.

So the upshot is: a woman is hurt, betrayed, and has nowhere to go: and the whole "men versus women" thing made it WORSE, even without any actual men in the picture.

It'd be great if it were that simple, wouldn't it? All you need to know is that You Can't Trust Men. Oh, sure, it's -hard- to get rid of all that feminine training, male pleasing and so on: but the good part is, that's a really clearly defined goal, and once you get there, it'll be so much better, won't it? I got all my sisters with me. Yay safety.

Too bad it doesn't work like that.

ETA: Thanks for this, from the SAFER blog: Kyle Payne and Screening for Sexual Assault Advocates.


Renegade Evolution said...

As someone who is generally pissed off, I don't trust people who say they are never angry.

Renegade Evolution said...

was looking at my stats, the little creep has been on my site for few hours today.

Lynn Gazis-Sax said...

Good point, about the "as long as I can remember" everyone who knows me has been saying I don't get angry part. That does move it away from the territory where it would be something like MacDuff weeping over the death of his wife and children, while his comrade urges him to act like a man instead (I always loved his response about how first he must feel it like a man - there's a man who's in touch with both his tears and, later on in the play, his anger), and more into the territory of, I'm a way more sensitive soul than the rest of the world, and, you know, really do appear to be claiming not to get angry in the way normal people do.

PhysioProf said...

As someone who is generally pissed off, I don't trust people who say they are never angry.

Me, neither. I assume that they are either lying, suppressing, or incapable of properly characterizing their own emotions. And regardless of which is the case, they are people to stay the fuck away from.

jfpbookworm said...

Someone who says they never get angry is either lying to everyone else or lying to themselves. Or they're a bomb that hasn't gone off yet.

This guy claimed to be an anti-rape activist. How the hell do you deal regularly with that subject (or with any form of injustice) and *not* get angry?

belledame222 said...

Well, he weeps, see. Is how he expresses the Outrage.

GallingGalla said...

There are plenty of people (mostly women b/c of socialization, etc) who cry when they get angry -- I'm one of them.

what skeeved me about Payne is that his anger / tears / wev are *fake*, just a big manipulation.

And yeah, that's not a characteristic of just men. In my personal life, I've known women who use tears as manipulation. (Which is basically what "white girl's tears" are about ... Yep, I've done it, too.)

Kristen said...


I've been thinking of that book "The Sociopath Next Door" as this is going on. 1 in 25 keeps running through my mind. One in 25 people is a sociopath...some are too lazy to actively hurt others...but others are not.

Melle said...

I think I've finally figured out what the hairshirt-wearing male feminists/feminist allies remind me of: the "one of the guys" kind of woman who slags off other women, all "Yeah, they're all stupid/shallow/all about make-up and boys, but not ME, I'm SPECIAL, aren't I SPECIAL please pay attention to me LOVE ME TELL ME I'M SPESHUL!"

("All men are evil and rapists and have this darkness of potential rape inside them but not ME well okay me too but I'm FIGHTING it aren't I SPECIAL pay ATTENTION to me and my sheshulness and my sensitivity LOVE ME TELL ME I'M SPESHUL FUCK ME!")

I just generally don't trust men who claim all men are evil ("Except ME!"), because, uh, that tells me more about that specific man than about men in general. Like, that he's evil and knows it and decided to blame it on him being a man. Which, yeah, generalisation, but I've met guys like this in real life -- like the guy who *insisted* on walking me home from a party, absolutely *insisted*, with the clear undertone that little female me walking home alone in a short skirt was gonna be a magnet for teh evil menz who won't be able to control themselves upon seeing my bare legs and will RAPE ME, and that's not the kinda guy I was gonna be alone with out in the dark, kthx.

Also, what everyone else said about the lack of anger and the crying thing. I've cried with anger, sure, but I've also raged with anger and fumed and cranked, and I'm generally a big believer in the power for good of (especially righteous) anger. Guess I'm just male-identified or something?

belledame222 said...

Welcome, melle.

Kristen, yeah, tbh I'm never sure exactly how she's so sure of those numbers, but ultimately: yeah, whatever, as you say: point being, most people are -not- like that. Venal, petty, flawed, weak, and so on, sure; but not sociopaths. This is a reason for optimism.

belledame222 said...

and yeah, of course, exactly, and this is the flipside of all that: clearly, if I curse and scream and enjoy pictures of nekkid people or ogling pretty people walking down the street, I am, what is it, male-identified? whereupon the whole cultural feminist solidarity crap can go out the window.

Honestly, what I think it is, with this kind of, many, male feminists (and non-feminists as well, actually), I mean putting aside "creepy psychopath abuser" that makes Kyle here special, is--and he talks about this himself--actually, they tend to have a problem with -men-, I think.

And, it's like, as straight men, they're both socialized to get all their emotional needs met from women, or particularly The One Woman; and yet guys who don't feel comfortable with the "alpha male" thing or whatever, well, they either go MRA/whiny guy, or they go this route. They glom onto feminism (or in the case of MRA's, spend their time railing against it), because, well, it's -there-; they don't really seem to have any other conduit for expressing their -stuff- with, well? Other men. I do think that's a lot of it.

I still think there needs to be some kind of mens'...something...that's not particularly about legal shit, isn't anti-feminism, but isn't centered around women either. It's like, you want to talk about your own shit, -talk about your own shit.- If it takes drumming in the woods, so be fucking it, you know, but--something.

And this is a separate thing, I think, from being a feminist/ally. It just doesn't really--it doesn't really -exist-, as such, this.

belledame222 said...

--oops, sorry, that actually -isn't- what you were saying, kirsten, was it. well, anyway. i was in a glass is half full mood or summat.

but yeah, I think--well, again, Kyle here's a mover and shaker, isn't he. Do Not Like.

UneFemmePlusCourageuse said...

Lord knows I've done that. Which is why I'm always going to be wary of tears. Particularly if I don't know the person well enough to know whether they're capable of making themselves cry or not. Methinks Payne's tears are just a way of displaying his sensitivity, because he's secretly not feminist at all and therefore believes that all the women in the room will fall head-over-heels for The One Man Who's Not Afraid To Cry. Because he has zero respect for women, and fails to see that we are not one gelatinous blob.

Hate that kind of girl. Particularly when that kind of talk is accompanied by a 'love' of all things men are 'supposed to' like and a propensity for telling rape jokes. Ergh. Never met a dude like that in real life, but he probably would skeeve me out, a wee bit at least.

Lynn Gazis-Sax said...

Could be the 1 in 25 figure is from the National Comorbidity Survey?


I'm not sure, though; at a quick glance, that one seems to have "conduct disorder" as its closest category to sociopath, and it's not clear the numbers match up.

Purtek said...

Finally catching up on some reading here, so first point - I think you're potentially the *only* person I know that *I* can be said to "sum up". :)

But also, with the more words, lots of it makes more sense, which is good and happy. A lot of these discussion are coming around to "safe space" and "women only space" and all that, and I think I gotta do some thinkings on that one some more.

Liz said...

Reading this five years after the fact because it was linked to an article about Hugo Schwyzer. Same dynamic but even worse damage done by a "male feminist" who had legions of female defenders malign anyone who questioned his personal history or intentions.