I Am Favreau

In the past few days, I have been told that I am in need of a “lesson”, told to seek therapy, called a misogynst, and had it inferred that i support violence against women, all because a drunken 27 yr old Holy Cross grad made a clumsy and insensitive attempt to make his friends laugh.  Or, rather, because I felt that the heat directed toward him was a bit over the top.  I never called the act harmless, or good fun.  I never uttered the phrase “boys will be boys”.  In fact, I thought he should be called on the carpet by his superiors, and that his dressing down should be somewhat public.  And I said so.

Let me be clear.  I think that calls for him to be fired in addition to being  publicly humiliated are misguided.  Sure, he will still make a lot of money in his career, he is a brilliant wordsmith, and someone will utilize his talent, but that isn’t the point.  Taking away a person’s livelihood over one stupid act strikes me as unnecessarily cruel.  He will probably have to wear the label of misogynist for the rest of his life, and I object to that as well.  I mentioned in some comments here that I might very well have done the same thing, if a perfect storm of fatigue, alcohol ingestion, and elation had taken place in my young life.  The reality is, it could have happened in this part of my life.  The idea that I would forever after be branded a misogynist as a result infuriates me.  To all the PUMAS and PUMA apologists out there, don’t you get that?  Go ahead and call me out if you think its insensitive.  Call it stupid and demeaning.  But try and hang the label of misogynist around my neck, and you’re in for a fight. My brother and my sisters and I know a little about domestic violence.  We were victims of it for years.  To me, the label of misogynist carries with it the implication that as such, you condone violence against women.  Since I remember hiding, terrified, upon seeing my mother struck with a lamp, I have never raised a hand to my wife or children, and have been financially supportive to Women and Children’s shelters, so my only response to be called a misogynst is a hearty fuck you.

Then there are some political realities to consider.  Its funny, because in an attempt to find articles to support my contention that overly strident feminist arguements do more harm than good, I decided to use the phrase rightly or wrongly attributed to Andrea Dworkin:  “all sex is rape.” (paraphrased, further down I’ll offer up a quote by Cathy Young as to why)  That attribution to Ms. Dworkin, which, after researching it, seems fair, offered the Right Wing an incredible opportunity to dimiss her and her entire body of work.  How easy it was to frame that into a perfectly logical sounding argument that feminism, at its core, is about the hatred of men.  It is folly to think that didn’t drive countless women away from feminism in general.  (Not to mention supportive men)

Here are two more quotes attributed to Ms. Dworkin:

“Childbearing is glorified in part because women die from it. “
“Seduction is often difficult to distinguish from rape. In seduction, the rapist often bothers to buy a bottle of wine. “

Cathy Young, writing for Reason Online, said this about Dworkin:

Unfortunately, she took her battle with her private demons into the public square, and ended up doing far more damage to feminism than any right-wing cabal. (Ironically, some right-wingers eagerly embraced not only Dworkin’s antiporn zeal but her argument that sexual liberation has hurt women.) Men, too, have been casualties of a climate in which a Vassar College official could tell Time magazine that a false rape charge might be a beneficial consciousness-raising experience for male students.

A new twist in society’s perception came in 1975, when Susan Brownmiller published her book Against Our Will: Men, Women and Rape. In it she attacked the concept that rape was a sex crime, arguing instead that it was a crime of violence and power over women. Throughout history, she wrote, rape has played a critical function. “It is nothing more or less than a conscious process of intimidation, by which all men keep all women in a state of fear.”

Out of this contention was born a set of arguments that have become politically correct wisdom on campus and in academic circles. This view holds that rape is a symbol of women’s vulnerability to male institutions and attitudes. “It’s sociopolitical,” insists Gina Rayfield, a New Jersey psychologist. “In our culture men hold the power, politically, economically. They’re socialized not to see women as equals.”

This line of reasoning has led some women, especially radicalized victims, to justify flinging around the term rape as a political weapon, referring to everything from violent sexual assaults to inappropriate innuendos. Ginny, a college senior who was really raped when she was 16, suggests that false accusations of rape can serve a useful purpose. “Penetration is not the only form of violation,” she explains. In her view, rape is a subjective term, one that women must use to draw attention to other, nonviolent, even nonsexual forms of oppression. “If a woman did falsely accuse a man of rape, she may have had reasons to,” Ginny says. “Maybe she wasn’t raped, but he clearly violated her in some way.”

Catherine Comins, assistant dean of student life at Vassar, also sees some value in this loose use of “rape.” She says angry victims of various forms of sexual intimidation cry rape to regain their sense of power. “To use the word carefully would be to be careful for the sake of the violator, and the survivors don’t care a hoot about him.” Comins argues that men who are unjustly accused can sometimes gain from the experience. “They have a lot of pain, but it is not a pain that I would necessarily have spared them. I think it ideally initiates a process of self-exploration. ‘How do I see women?’ ‘If I didn’t violate her, could I have?’ ‘Do I have the potential to do to her what they say I did?’ Those are good questions.”

Those who hope to raise society’s sensitivity to the problem of date rape would do well to concede that it is not precisely the same sort of crime as street rape, that there may be very murky issues of intent and degree involved. (emphasis mine)

In this comment thread, I implied that the Women’s Movement has not even convinced the majority of women that feminism is important to them, so how on Earth were they to attempt to “teach us men”?

Those two ideas quoted above, I believe, were not written for real world application, but, rather, for like minded female academics to nod in agreement with.  Because no one else will, and, in politics, the idea is to frame an argument in a way that attracts rather than repels.

I also decided to see what that noted Patriarch Andrew Sullivan had to say about the whole affair, since he knows a thing or two about oppression.  Zilch, except to bestow his Moore Award (for bitter, divisive, Left-Wing rhetoric) to Dee Dee Myers for her take on it.

And this about Dworkin, which i think lends support to at least part of my argument:

I’m not surprised that so many on the social right liked Andrea Dworkin. Like Dworkin, their essential impulse when they see human beings living freely is to try and control or stop them – for their own good. Like Dworkin, they are horrified by male sexuality, and see men as such as a problem to be tamed. Like Dowkin, they believe in the power of the state to censor and coerce sexual feedom. Like Dworkin, they view the enormous new freedom that women and gay people have acquired since the 1960s as a terrible development for human culture. Cathy Young has a great blog item exploring these connections here. Dworkin, of course, was somewhat too frank in her hatred of sexual freedom to achieve any real political power. But the theocons … well, they’re helping frame big government conservatism as we speak.”

I have several pages of quotes cut and pasted into a wordpad document that show, in my opinion, that you can be a Liberal, be supportive of Women’s Rights, be sensitive to dangerous characterizations, yet, still disagree with overly strident, yes, shrill(somebody please explain to me why some women want to take ownership of this adjective) statements about men, or about men’s intentions.  Or, what value symbolism holds in a political discussion.  Or the assertion that seduction is really rape.  All I’m asking for is to be convinced, not labeled a Neandrethal for not agreeing with you.

This probably won’t make me anyone’s internet boyfriend…

35 Comments

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35 responses to “I Am Favreau

  1. bridgett

    Look, Mack, I’m done. I don’t feel a burning need to convince you nor do I feel obligated to the sisterhood to spend my life wrangling with some cranky old dude when I need to be cutting wood.

    In the interest of pointing you towards some resources, though, much of this reads like a version of “Some feminist said or did something I perceive as offensive, stupid, crazy, or evil, so isn’t feminism a failure?”

    To which I’d respond:

    http://finallyfeminism101.wordpress.com/2007/08/12/faq-some-feminist-saiddid-something-offensivestupidcrazyevil-so-isnt-feminism-a-failure/

    Further, since you could benefit from a more recent knowledge about where contemporary US feminist practice is, you might want to hit up http://finallyfeminism101.wordpress.com/, but on the other hand, if you want to inveigh about a woman who has been dead more than three years and who wasn’t particularly central to feminist thought or activism for a decade prior to that, I guess it’s your blog.

    Finally, there’s a reason that I’m not acting like your argument and questions (particularly those in the pentultimate paragraph) are novel or well-conceived — because they aren’t. This ground’s been plowed for thirty years. I’ll point you to some resources and let you read up on the various viewpoints that are out there, but it’s not on me or any of your feminist acquaintances to educate you. You’re a literate grown man and can do that work yourself.

  2. but it’s not on me or any of your feminist acquaintances to educate you.

    It would appear that the “teachable moment” has then passed.

    Some feminist said or did something I perceive as offensive, stupid, crazy, or evil, so isn’t feminism a failure?”

    Well, I meant to convey that though decades old, Feminism, as practiced today, isn’t all that much different than in the First Wave, in that the language, if not the tactics, hasn’t changed all that much. The political ramifications are real, and I just wanted some justification, since the last Repub President appointed two (2) decidedly women-unfriendly judges.

    Sorry thats all you took from my post.

  3. Holy shit, my friend. Holy shit.

    I don’t know where to start and I don’t even know if you want folks to start somewhere or if you just want to say your piece for the record.

    So, I don’t know what to say.

  4. bridgett

    First wave feminism is pre-1920 and the main focus of the first wave, in the American context, was on winning the right to vote. I think you mean second wave.

  5. Hey Mack, a bunch of us guys are going to the titty bar later, if you want to go?

  6. I’m in, Ex.

    Yup, Second Wave, Bridgett.

    No B, I want to know why its OK to sling that term around with abandon. I want to know why a mistake is somehow evidence of some deep-seated hatred of women, which is how every dictionary i consulted defines misogyny.

    I want to know why me patting a mannequin’s ass couldn’t be harmless, or, if you prefer, my own protest against using the female form to sell shit.

    I want to know why your readers don’t explain how they intend to proceed in a way that moves men to align with obvious rights due women.

    That would be an excellent start.

  7. bridgett

    Maybe because aligning men isn’t all that important to me? I think men are intelligent creatures able to figure out how their interests are served for themselves and they can do the work if they feel the urge — happens all the time. The point of feminism is not to rescue men, ‘k?

  8. Feminism is so much different now then it was when it started.

    I don’t blog in the same circles as most of you so I missed a LOT of this argument, but as a woman, I’m not that offended by Favreaus actions.

    Was it inappropriate? YES.
    Should he be reprimanded? YES.

    But seriously, if you don’t think a man ever said or did something inappropriate with a picture of you, you are sorely mistaken. There are just no pictures to prove it, and you aren’t Hilary Clinton (so no one really cares).

    Hilary would impress me if she had a good laugh about it and dropped it. Let his boss(es) deal with him.

  9. Nevermind, that is what Hilary did. Go Hilary.

  10. Well, Bridgett, part of my point is…y’all are not aligning enough women, either. As a father of two girls, I’d like to know that they have autonomy over their bodies, come hell or high water.

    Mychal just nailed it. Is it so hard for you to address that?

  11. All right, good. This gives me some clarity about what it is you want to know and I can answer for you–at least as far as what I think about things.

    One, many of us, myself included, believe that behavior can be sexist or racist or whatever without the person committing the act being sexist or racist or whatever. This may, indeed, be a bullshit position. As the Professor pointed out to me this afternoon, it may actually be too close to “love the sinner, hate the sin.” Fair enough. I’m going to have to think on that.

    But, and again, I’m just speaking for me, to me the problem with the Favreau picture is this: Tensions were running incredibly high during the primary campaign and we saw a lot of bullshit on both sides–some folks making it seem like it was women v. black men, other folks shouting “iron my shirt” at Clinton. You were there. You know.

    And a lot of us feminists did try to call out the bigger feminists who engaged in that racist crap. There are still huge fissures and hurt feelings among feminists about that stuff.

    And part of the infighting among feminist has to do with whether Obama will really be that different from all the men who have come before him.

    Some of us say no, that his administration will only be better in the sense that he won’t be as bad as Bush (so we won’t see an immediate overthrowing of Roe), but he still won’t be good enough about the issues that are important to women. That he and the people in his administration won’t really get it the way that, say, Clinton would have.

    Others of us threw our support behind Obama and argued that just because Clinton has a vagina doesn’t mean that we’re guaranteed she’ll be a better president for women than Obama will. We argued that an Obama administration would be full of all kinds of men and women who would, of course, get our issues. Don’t worry, we said, the Obama team will be good for women; you’ll see.

    Those were some high-stakes and very painful discussions (when they were even civil enough to be called discussions) that were happening over the course of the last year in feminist circles. Like I said, feelings are still running very high.

    Now, for me, I consider feminism to be basically a women’s movement. I think it’s nice and appropriate for men to support feminist goals, especially the ones that are dear to their hearts, but it doesn’t matter to me if you’ve read Dworkin or can tell a second-waver from a third-waver.

    All I ask is that you (speaking in the general sense of you) don’t stand in my way, that you don’t make my day harder to get through, and that you don’t, metaphorically, shit in my sandbox.

    So, basically, what I expect from men is to not treat me like shit just because I’m a woman and it’s easier for you to get away with treating me like shit and don’t make fun of me for being a woman, like there’s something gross or stupid about being a woman or that all a woman is is a warm wet place to put your dick. Don’t use the fact that I’m a woman against me.

    Now, obviously, it’s different when you’re friends with someone. If you wanted to grab a mannequin’s ass and turn and wink at me while you do it or, shoot, at this point, if you wanted to grab a cardboard cut-out of Clinton’s breast and email me the pictures, I’d laugh long and hard. But we’re friends and we share experiences and I trust that you know that part of the humor comes from the fact that you can cross lines with me that other people can’t.

    Again, speaking for me, my problem with what Favreau did was that, even though he’s probably not sexist, in order to celebrate his victory over Clinton, he made fun of her for being a woman in a way that suggested that all she was really good for was being a warm wet hole he could stick his dick in.

    Again, for me, the reason this is a problem is not that it suggests some underlying misogyny on Favreau’s part. I don’t care if it does or not. The problem is that a lot of feminists felt like we put a lot on the line vouching for Obama and it just felt like “Fucking-a, jackass,” because now we’ve got all those other feminists dancing around “We told you so! We told you so!”

    And why? Because Favreau wasn’t creative enough to come up with some way to celebrate his team’s victory over Clinton without mocking her in a way that trades specifically on her gender?

    It’s not the end of the world. I don’t think anyone over at my site was saying that it was. It’s just that, considering the context of the primaries, it was inconsiderate to the women on his side and that kind of grates.

    So, I don’t see what that has to do with you patting a mannequin’s ass and, frankly, it’s hard for me to imagine that you would ever do what Favreau did. Not because I can’t imagine that you wouldn’t defile a cardboard cut-out. I know you’d do that. And I can see how it’d be hilarious.

    Shoot, it’s been almost two years and I still laugh every time I think of you doing pelvic thrusts at Coble.

    But I just don’t believe that you would ever, if you were working on a political campaign, be so careless with the reputation of that campaign or inconsiderate of the awkward position that would put the people who worked with you in. I could be wrong, but I don’t think so.

  12. Mack, I apologize for the therapy comment. I really didn’t mean you should see a shrink – I meant you needed to understand how degrading things such as this are. This guy didn’t just grope one women, he groped every woman.

    Groping is ubiquitous and is rarely seen in such a visible form as The Photo. This is why it is hard to fight the groping and the systemic degradation it represents and causes.

    As a very good friend of mine said:
    You cannot hold a sit in at a lunch counter to show the evil in groping. You cannot march to an ocean and make salt to show the absurdity of economically oppressing the majority of a population. But you can demand that the President-elect show solidarity with all those who dream of a time when women will live in a nation where they will not be judged by the by the make up of their genitals but by the content of their character, the quality of their intent, and the soundness of their ideas. We can expect and wait for our President-elect to join us in that dream, even if we must wait for a long time time and wait with little hope. But the waiting and the expecting is the demanding.

    And I don’t buy the whole livelihood theory. If he loses this gig, he sure as hell won’t be starving.

    And with that, I’m done. I’m out. Finished. I respect you enormously and don’t want this to affect our friendship.

    Love and Happy times to you and yours.
    Cyn

  13. Also, you keep saying that we’re not aligning enough women but I don’t know what you mean. I don’t need women to call themselves feminist or even like feminists to feel like my cause is good. If women have our own money and can go to school and get jobs and buy our own houses and make our ways in the world–and we can do all of those things exactly because of the work feminists have done and continue to do–I don’t need all women to like me or give credit to my movement, too.

    Would it be nice? Yeah, but it’s a social movement, the point of which is to change society. If society is changing, which is it, pretty damn rapidly, then what do I care if women know who to to give credit to or even that credit should be given?

  14. I’d laugh long and hard. But we’re friends and we share experiences and I trust that you know that part of the humor comes from the fact that you can cross lines with me that other people can’t.

    Favreau thought he was amongst friends, i believe, and never intended for that to be made public. He isn’t stupid.

    Context is everything. I was furious at the thought that I could be labeled a misogynist because I didn’t want this guy’s life ruined over one stupid prank.

    Lastly, it is a tad disingenuous to think that Favreau sat down, considered his options, and decided to commemorate his victory by posting that picture to the web. He was drinking, he was elated, he was careless. Why the hell can’t that be the end of it?

  15. Cyn, ok. I appreciate that you took the time to answer my concerns. be well.

  16. B, because you need more women, and you need men, like me. The language you and others use is important to that end.

    First and foremost, stop telling me I can’t call something shrill without it being an ataack onthe person’s gender. Lets at least start there.

  17. Ha ha ha. Are you serious? Okay, fine. Shrill away. I was unaware I was still bothering you about that.

  18. This guy didn’t just grope one women, he groped every woman.

    NO. He didn’t grope me. He didn’t even grope one woman. He cupped his hand on a cardboard cutout. The woman whose image is depicted on that piece of cardboard dismissed the issue, and is even considering the young man’s application for a job in the State Department. Evidently, she has seen his skills and what he has to offer in service to his country of higher priority than a piece of cardboard. I tend to agree with her.

  19. bridgett

    Shrill is used in our culture as a shorthand vituperation to describe women’s speech as politically strident, unreasonable, and unbecomingly harsh. It’s been the adjective of choice to dismiss the content of women’s arguments due to the manner of their delivery since before the French Revolution. So, its got a long and ugly history to it. Use it if you want to, but don’t bullshit yourself about how it will be received.

  20. Mychal

    Ginger is amazing, lol.

  21. I saw this yesterday and decided to think on it a bit.

    The trouble is this; I agree with Mack, Bridgett, Aunt B., Mychal, Cyn NY, Gingersnaps and, even–just a little bit– Exador.

    I just try to be decent and honest with all of the people I deal with (yes, I do fail in that) regardless of their gender.

  22. You just want in on the lap dances, Demo.

    Can’t fool me.

  23. democommie agreed with me!

    Woo Hoo!!!

  24. Did you really just Woo Hoo?

  25. bridgett

    He did, but he didn’t mean it. Tthere are things you do when you’re with your friends that don’t mean the same thing they do when…well, you know, context and all.

  26. bridgett,

    If you want to cup any parts of a cardboard cutout of me, I won’t be offended.

  27. What makes you think we haven’t already?

  28. Ex, I think I might have done it for a minute too….

    Sorry.

  29. I love nothing more than groping cardboard cut-outs of Exador with you, my friend.

  30. Well, I thought your rendering was, um, generous.

  31. Everybody keeps talking about Lapp dances, but I don’t plan on traveling to Finland anytime soon, so that won’t be happening.

  32. bridgett

    Mrs. Schwartz could stomp me into a little muddy patch. Think I’ll pass.

  33. Are you kidding? Mrs. Schwartz is the one who gave me $150 to make a life-sized anatomically correct cardboard cut out of Exador. That way whenever anybody is like “Why did you marry him?” she just pulls that out and everyone is like “Oh. OH. Oh my! I see.”

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