Let’s Discuss: Good Men

29 Nov

Chloe: I don’t want to kill the buzz but this article has been floating around my newsfeed and I thought it was a good read.


I wrote a typical Chloe diatribe on my Facebook (posted below) and will probably read the article again and think more on it — I want to give a disclaimer first and point out that I agree with mostly all of what the author is saying: I work with a community of men that has fundamentally changed my own feminism because I FEEL so much better now what it is like to be a poor (and/or) black/Hispanic man, at least in urban Westchester/NYC communities.  And I do not feel like these men are necessarily “my enemies” anymore — while a lot of them do horrible things (including rape and murder, oh god no) and should be held accountable, I wonder how many of them would make the same decisions were it not for the same system that encourages patriarchy in the first place?  Anyway.  But my main thing is that it reminds me of this blog I read awhile back about Schrodinger’s rapist.. lemme see… here it is!

Facebook blathering here:

Read this because it’s interesting, and it should make you think. But I have a fundamental problem with the suggestion that women bear some responsibility to make the poor good men out there feel good about themselves. We are responsible for OURSELVES. If you are a good (cis) man, you are responsible to be a good man again and again, over and over, no matter how frustrating it is to be judged and stereotyped and labeled by negative and inflated masculinities. It is your job to teach other men to be good men like you, over and over again, every minute and every day, and to correct and educate bad men, and good men who make bad decisions.

And if you are a woman, or queer or trans, it is OKAY for you to understand the implicit threat of cis men, and of masculinity. It is okay for you to know that there is an implied danger to strange men and familiar ones alike – because if you’re like me, you HAVE learned that the education men have gotten and the permission they’ve been given is to take what they want, when they want. You can know this and still know that there are men out there you can trust – but you can demand that that trust be earned, day in and day out, and that when they transgress upon it, they be held quickly and firmly accountable. That does NOT make you “damaging” or “offensive”. If you happen to be the kind of woman whose mind can stretch beyond one isolated level of oppression, you can EVEN understand that sometimes, being a black man or being a Hispanic man or being a poor man can be just as dangerous or worse in our communities. But you can know this, and expect better, each and every day, from the people around you.

Because if we are not demanding more, after all we’ve been through, who is going to?


Rachel: At the end of the day, I didn’t like her post. She talks about the often incorrect stereotype of the strange man, which is on point, but then she’s like, even though most rapes are committed by people we know, let’s still come at rape like it only happens in dark streets on your walk home.

Dude, no. It happens at parties! It happens on dates! And not by strange men! In fact, I have a feeling that these men who rape us at parties, on dates — they often think rape is wrong. They often don’t think THEY are rapists. Isn’t that where this conversation with men needs to happen? On the point of consent?

I don’t know. Other people’s thoughts? Maybe there’s too much going on in my brain and I’m totally misreading this article…..


Chloe: YES RACHEL. I would clap to your email but I’m in the office.

I talk to men in my groups who run on and on and FUCKING ON about how their mamas taught them to respect women and have compassion and how rapists are sick (the ever popular “illness” explanation) and they’ll condemn that shit til they’re blue in the face but IN THE NEXT SENTENCE not exaggerating these same men will call their girlfriends and baby mamas bitches for not giving it up and remind me that women gotta know what they’re good for and that the 14 year old who was raped so violently that she needed surgery in the video I showed today was a lying slut who is just trying for entrapment. I have guys tell me ACTUAL stories about how they forced /coerced /etc a woman that one time immediately after talking about how all rapists should be locked up or curb stomped or whatever else their imaginations can dream up. It’s actually mind boggling.

My boyfriends BEST FRIEND called me a liar when I told him I was raped and reminded me that all women are just out to get men.  These are “good” men who harbor horrible opinions and commit horrible crimes because they have been taught to rationalize and explain away what everyone else is calling rape. The word rape means something separate, apparently.


Tara:  I think your facebook post is on point in that we need to hold the men in our lives quickly and firmly accountable – which is the part I have struggled with the most.

Like you said, these are “good men” who still have really fucked up feelings toward women. Its been especially hard for me in romantic relationships. How do you find a partner who wholly respects and supports you? I know there is something to be said about education – but what if “educating” someone is totally overwhelming?


Rachel: Tara, yes! Education is EXHAUSTING! (as I’m sure Chloe knows). Why can’t they teach about consent instead of dark strangers in elementary school? would save us a boatload of time.


Chloe: Hahah I agree. I am also remembering a great piece in the nyt about how to raise good kids we not only need better education in schools but better parents too.


Tara: Speaking of…


Chloe: Christ on a cracker.


Maureen: Ding, ding, ding!!!!! I’m totally late to this thread but better schools AND better parents (emphasis on parents) is seriously the solution in my eyes. Actually, there is another solution. I open a school just for parents. And you MUST graduate in order to have/keep your children. What a concept.  (Don’t elect me to office…)


Tara: When I said educating, I didn’t necessarily mean schools. I absolutely think that 1) it starts in the home and 2) there should be conversations about consent in health and sex ed courses BUT…

what I was referring to with education is “educating” the men in our lives, especially our romantic partners and good male friends. While we need to hold them “quickly and firmly accountable” as Chloe mentioned, and I totally agree – it becomes really, really overwhelming and exhausting when repeated efforts to try to educate male friends and partners on issues of gender inequality and sexism. It get really fucking annoying when your boyfriend tells you to take a joke after you’ve had dozens of conversations on why the phrase “take a joke” pisses you off. I HAVE A SENSE OF HUMOR, YOU ASSHOLE. JUST STOP MAKING STUPID AND SOMETIMES PROBLEMATIC JOKES.

Also, the apple cinnamon oatmeal from Caribou Coffee is totally disgusting.


Chloe: Tara– I was with you on the education bit– didn’t mean to derail!!  I know exactly what you mean. On some level I wish they would make the effort to figure it out or at least be sensitive/respectful of these feelings — it shouldn’t be our responsibility all the time and sometimes it’s not just exhausting but also insulting! I don’t know if you feel that way but I do sometimes.

One Response to “Let’s Discuss: Good Men”

  1. Ms. V June 1, 2012 at 7:30 pm #

    ha! you ladies are awesome – oatmeal from Starbucks is also disgusting. Tastes like chemicals. Agreed that intimate education is always overwhelming, but awesome when close male contacts start to make feminist jokes with you.

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