January 16, 2013 46 Comments
Men as a class believe that they deserve access to women.
Given this context, I’d like to evaluate something I’ve heard said, which is:
If women withdrew their energy from men, the patriarchy would collapse.
I don’t believe this to be true, and I’d like to evaluate it in the context of male entitlement to women.
To begin with, the statement presumes that women are free to choose to leave men.
In many cases, there are economic considerations to think of when freeing women from men. Many women are currently financially unable, due to children, or disability, or life circumstances, to leave the men in their lives.
Furthermore, women are conditioned to reject one another in favor of male attention, and to pursue male attention as a primary life goal. Those very few women who find themselves able to become female-centric are rare, because the conditioning we receive to hate other women is so pervasive and insidious (see The Exceptional Woman ). At least in my case, I am not the perfect radical feminist, and am not always certain that I place women first in my life in every circumstance, though I *try* to. Undoing this conditioning and pursuing sisterhood can be a lifelong process.
(And of course, perhaps there are a very small number of truly pro-feminist
unicorns men who do not stomp on women’s liberation, but I am not getting into exceptionalism here.)
Now none of this means that all women are unable to withdraw their energy from all men. It simply illustrates the various difficulties women might encounter when attempting to do so.
But even if women are able to withdraw their energy from men, that will not change men’s behavior, or their sense of entitlement to women.
If there are not enough women willing to give men energy, men will take women’s energy for themselves.*
We see this in porn and prostitution already. In the ForeverAlone subreddit, for example, a man who has been “unsuccessful” at wooing women to be his f’khole and maid thinks it is funny to suggest that he should just buy a wife, aka trafficked woman. He feels he deserves a woman so much that if she won’t consent on her own, he’ll simply purchase that consent for himself. Either way, he’s getting his.
This happens all the time, and everywhere. Men laugh about their entitlement to women.
We can easily see this entitlement illustrated by a New York Times story that came out yesterday.
In the article, we read that Williston, North Dakota is a recently booming oil town where there are at least 1.6 men for every woman.
Men do not like this ratio, because it means there are not enough
f’hole maids women for their liking. They feel entitled to a certain type of object (that is, women), so they get very angry when they don’t get the toy they want to play with and take care of them.
Notice how resident Jon Kenworthy discusses the lack-of-women situation in Williston. His response illustrates his entitlement to women, and describes them as if they are dehumanized objects to be “imported”.
“It’s bad, dude,” said Jon Kenworthy, 22, who moved to Williston from Indiana in early December. “I was talking to my buddy here. I told him I was going to import from Indiana because there’s nothing here.”
What do men do when their entitlement to women is not met?
Men in Williston harass women in the grocery store and at the bars. They frequent prostituted women, and strip clubs. They attempt to carry women off in the middle of the afternoon. Men in Williston take their entitlement to women, and force themselves upon them. Either way, they’re getting theirs.
This is why women in Williston are afraid to leave their homes.
If women as a group withdraw our energy from men, then men will forcibly take us. Boundaries they find inconvenient will be violated by force.
We are, in a very real sense, their hostages.
This is why slutwalk marches don’t work. As I said in another blog post,
“By publicly dressing up in panties and duct tape, these women seem to me to be placating the men, saying, “I’ll consent, so you don’t need to rape me! See, sex is on the table, so no need to go forcing anyone.”
How disgusting that we live in a world where a popular protest against male sexual violence “works” by placating men with the offer of sex. How repulsive and infuriating that this is what men demand of women.
Now. All that having been said.
Please don’t think this post means that we shouldn’t focus on women, and withdraw our energy from men. We can and should do whatever we can to manage under patriarchy.
The point of my post is to state clearly that men are responsible for upholding patriarchy.
The point of my post is to state clearly that women are not responsible for upholding patriarchy.
*The short story Wives by Lisa Tuttle illustrates this.
** Thanks to Winnie for discussing these issues with me.