Women's Day

BigV

Registrant
Am I the only one who has a hard time joining in the observance of Women's Day?

All day long I've been seeing posts about how wonderful women are, especially on facebook (although, I haven't been out of the house yet, because it's my day off). How could I possibly join in celebrating a day that celebrates women, when the person who abused me was a woman? I feel as though it's an expected social more, and not piping up to shower women with praise will be taken as evidence that a man must be a misogynist, or doesn't believe in supporting women.

I think I'm just going to have to spend today biting my tongue. Just like I always do.
 

JayBro

Registrant
Hi BigV,

While I totally understand your anger and hurt as the abuse you suffered was caused by a woman, I think it may be beneficial during one's recovery to remember that not all women are abusers. Just the same way that not all men should be labelled as abusers because of the actions of a few, there are countless women out there who are nothing like the abuser. You can also look at it this way: if you were having a conversation with a woman or girl who was sexually abused by a man and therefore distrusted and perhaps even hated/feared men, what would you say to her?

Part of the recovery process is also forgiveness. While forgiveness of the actions themselves are much further down the road - or yet alone forgiveness of the perpetrator - holding half the world's population in a tainted regard because of this one woman is counter-productive. Of course women abuse boys and men, but so too are girls and women abused by men. Men abuse boys and men. Women abuse girls and women. Either the whole human race is damned or perhaps there are individuals among humans who have committed horrible actions towards others.

Instead of praising ALL women, why not think about those who too have been abused, those who support survivors (such as male survivors), and those who would never abuse or harm others.

This is just my say and I don't mean to be preachy. Interpret my two cents as you please.

I wish you all the best as you continue down your path of recovery.
 

BigV

Registrant
I appreciate what you're saying, Jay, and I actually agree. I suppose I didn't make what I was trying to say very clear. I wasn't trying to say that I think that all women are bad, but that sometimes I just don't feel like joining in this day of celebration... yet, I also feel as though if I don't, I might be labeled a bad guy. At this point in my recovery, I don't feel that doing all the work, and the reading and such that my feminist friends think I should be doing, is actually going to help me. At this point, I am barely beginning to help myself... so I'm afraid I can't be there or provide support or resources to women's causes. I've made the mistake of bringing this point up, before, with various feminists that I know (whether it had to do with women's day or not), and basically just got privilege-called, and so-forth.

Personally, I don't think male survivors of female abusers should have anything expected of them in this regard. I respect women, and in my immediate life, I'll treat them as equals, as so long as they treat me with dignity and respect, as well. But I'm not going to do anything else for them. Getting my own needs met, at this moment, is hard enough... I can't help women to get their's met, and meet mine at the same time.

My white-male privilege is not an endless flow of advantages that I'm able to simply pass-out to non-white non-males... I actually have very little to go on, right now. In fact, I'm pretty much running on empty. So I'm going to just focus on getting my own needs met, and, hopefully, won't be called out as not doing enough for women. I've had other male friends of mine called out, and I've been called out myself, as being unsupportive... this kind of "activism" or call-out culture is still really common where I use to live, in East Vancouver (East Van is kinda similar to Portland). It's one of the reasons I moved away from there... I found it really alienating, and ended up being ostracized by members of my own community for not allying myself with the local radical-feminist constabulary.

I suppose that's another thing... my experiences with that special brand of feminism, especially in Vancouver, left me not just feeling bitter, but actually re-traumatized. Many women who I considered peers and fellow activists began to argue with me when I began to open up about my experience of abuse. I won't go into detail about the contents of those arguments, but I can only describe their side of it as toxic. It really turned me off from feminism, and from things like Women's Day.

I think, for now, I'm just going to stick to my policy of keeping my distance from all of that, a well as Women's Day stuff, and just focus on my own issues and needs.
 

JayBro

Registrant
Hi BigV,

Thanks for your response and for clearing things up for me. I understand it a lot better now. In Canada I have had similar experiences with feminists and extreme left-wing ideologies. I consider myself quite left-leaning, however I find such extremist as you described awful. Many abuse survivors experience re-traumatizing of some kind or another from telling others about the abuse and I feel really sorry that you had these bad experiences. They tried to ignore you because these women (and possibly men too?) who you spoke with have blinders on and see the world only in their theoretical paradigms. I have found that they are often angry about something and do take it out on others; often anyone who says something that would challenge their beliefs (especially based on who was saying it) is very threatening to them and they can be quite defensive and often hurtful.

When I worked in Toronto for an LGBTQ human rights group, I hosted a lunch & learn on the topic of childhood sexual abuse. I mentioned and had resources specifically about female abusers. It was more or less taken as a footnote and some were very uncomfortable with the idea. I think that often certain interpretations of feminism and human rights tend to absolve individuals and groups of their personal agency and ability to act based on the label that they are given. So, in this case, a female could not possibly be capable of abusing a male (or not as bad as a male). I think this refuses to acknowledge how sexism towards women is also harmful to men because it paints men as being unable to suffer abuse (by both men and women) and have their abuse recognized. This construct sees only females as being capable of being victims. The sexist idea of the "fairer, softer, nurturing" gender not only interprets women as non-empowered, inevitable victims of abuse, but it also pacifies them and takes away their ability to also be perpetrators of abuse. So, in the end, those feminists who trivialized the abuse you experienced are continuing to uphold patriarchal archetypes and sexist notions of women.

I too have been bitten by this segment of the "movement" and I feel that it is highly counter-productive because it only burns bridges with valuable allies. Yes, those who are privileged should understand their privilege and work towards a just society, but at the same time, their own human experience should not be met with aggression or denial. They should not be excluded from the movement but rather included.

To be honest, for a day like Women's Day there really is nothing that you could do other than slacktivism (i.e. special Facebook status) unless you were volunteering or part of some sort of organisation or government body.

Those who are educated on this topic will understand that men and boys can be victimized by women too and that there is a special challenge for these victims to gain recognition because of the passive roles our society assigns women.

You're doing the right thing on your recovery journey by focusing on yourself and avoiding toxic situations. You'll be ok, and if you allow both good and bad experiences to be opportunities for growth and reflection, you'll certainly thrive.
 

BigV

Registrant
Thanks, Jay.

It's unfortunate, because I started to become more aware of the childhood traumas I had experienced, all of which were at the hands of women, was partly due to the work done by feminists and other activists. As a result, I started hoping that maybe I could find support, recognition and have my voice heard within activist circles... that like so many female survivors who had found a home and a place of belonging, that so too would I. But trying to join in on workshops, discussions and conferences on these and related subjects was basically like drawing a bull's-eye on my forehead. This was when I was a teenager, in the nineties, and really wanted to support this movement, and to be supported by it. But I just ended up getting burned in the end.

Some people who I use to consider friends still organize protests for the opening of men's centres, like the one at SFU. These are the kind of so called feminists who pull fire-alarms at men's issues based conferences, etc. One of them even threatened a friend of mine, and actual feminist, in a movie theatre, once, because she strayed from the sisterhood by expressing support for male survivors. It's really disgusting behavior, actually.

And behavior, or action, is the key, imo. Not theory, and not language. If people who think of themselves as activists think they can excuse any kind of behavior by the clever use of academic language, terminology and theories, then they don't deserve to be called activists.

Also, I've been told by some people, after attempting to show me their guarded sympathy, usually follow up by saying "not all feminists"... which sounds almost exactly like hashtag-not all men. So my response to that is "yes all feminists". Because even a supposedly socially progressive movement can suffer from it's own systemic problems that are entirely independent of other systemic problems. It would be easy to excuse those systemic problems by saying that "that's just the influences of patriarchy reasserting themselves within the movement, because we haven't been diligent enough"... unfortunately, it's not. It's something deeper... it's the all to human tendency towards hubris and the holier than thou syndrome... that often leads to the belief that the thinking and theories of one's own in-group are superior to everyone else's, and that culpability couldn't possibly be pinned on people who adhere to the resulting values and principles.

Until that, and related movements become more open, inclusive, intersectional, and begin focusing on phenomenology and practices rather than linguistics and theory, I really have no interest in being a part of them.
 

focusedbody

Registrant
BigV said:
I can't help women to get their's met, and meet mine at the same time.
BigV:

This kind of nails it on the head.

Over the years, I thought and felt and behaved as if I could do that for women. And while I was doing it, I denied the uneasy feeling inside and the few occasions when people looked at me askance. I suppose that they were suspecting that I was not altogether present or speaking for all of me. At other times, I ignored depth of what men said to me. It took me a while to recognize that I was a man too and begin to feel more.

Now I can see that, perhaps like yourself, I may have been cultivating a persona that could take in all the toxicity with the intention of healing it all. These days Im considering how this kind of reaction grew out of a role I played in my family.

Slowly letting this go is a challenge. It brings out more of the traumatic response at first, but eventually leads me to what I'm really feeling and experiencing, to the phenomenology of the interactions I'm having.

In the past, I may have dreaded confronting and witnessing my own needs, but now that I am stronger and have a greater sense of the truth, I try to get the big picture. When I breathe and take it in, and share my own pain where I can, I eventually feel better.

What seems most difficult to navigate is the question of how to truly support a woman, particularly one that I care for. Without actually taking on her pain, I have been slowly working on what it means to listen and contain some of the toxic material, without getting caught up in it. I think that in doing so, Im attempting to de-polarize what are very familiar interactions that tend to destroy good communication and a sense of caring.

Thanks for bringing up the subject and being so eloquent on it. Without these kinds of discussions the world can get smaller and scarier.

FB
 

JayBro

Registrant
Hi BigV,

I think you made some really valid points. Those human rights "activists" truly then aren't activists. Do they still organize protests? I volunteered in Toronto at a resource centre for both men and women survivors of childhood sexual abuse. At its inception in 1998 there were threats and funding rejections due to the inclusion of men, but this has seemed to die down and throughout Ontario there has been a general shift towards recognising male survivors. Even the Ministry of the Attorney General has a hotline set up via its victim services.
Do you know about the BC Society for Male Survivors? http://bc-malesurvivors.com

You certainly are correct that within movements counter to corrupt systems there also lies corruption and prejudice. That exists everywhere: in religious communities, politics, among academics, ethnic groups etcetera. And so perhaps a socio-politically engaged group that is built along gender ideologies is filled with heated disagreement over different theories, inclusion of other groups and so forth. At its onset, many early women's rights movements excluded lesbians, bisexuals, trans* women, and non-white women. Unfortunately men are still excluded by many of the more extreme segments and the notion that there exists male victims of female perpetrators is something that they refuse to acknowledge because it doesn't jive with their generalisation of women.
 

jaklumen

Registrant
I felt much the same way on International Women's Day. I was quite angry and scared, but I didn't dare show it.

I am not on Facebook-- I can't stand the negativity there, especially from certain extended family, and so I nuked my account. But I saw plenty on Twitter and blogs (mostly WordPress, but some Blogger).

I don't think everyone paid equal attention to it-- my youngest sister told me she didn't feel it was an especially significant event, and she considers herself a first-wave feminist. Really, I think this was just something that gives social media enthusiasts something to talk about, something more in particular than usual.

It's tough. I feel you. Most of my support groups (again, online)-- the majority of them are women. Discussions just gravitate towards a woman's perspective. Some of them, they know about my mother abusing me, and that I was sexually bullied and slut shamed... by women. Egads! But relatively few do know, or know much about it. Relatively few relate, and I don't expect them to understand specifically my perspective as a man. They've got the privilege this time-- "Daddy's Girl" is not an insult, but "Mama's Boy" sure is.

When the majority of folks using all social media on average are women-- again, discussion gravitate towards a woman's perspective. It frustrates me a lot that they aren't more accommodating, but, such as it is.

For now, I'm just flattered that my wife sometimes gets angry for me. She doesn't like the old chestnut "women are more spiritual" that gets tossed around at church, and she wants equal representation for me.

Is this helpful? I do agree with what you've said. I don't like being a pioneer per se, but I figure, eventually, people will get it.
 

victor-victim

Registrant
i have had numerous problems with sexual assault resources in this area because of "female perspective" and "gender bias".
when i first officially disclosed my horror history, that was back in the early 1980's, there was nothing for men. zero.
nada. nichts. i joined a couple of groups, and was immediately asked to leave on the first night because my presence was disturbing to the female victims. all their perps were male, and they could not share with a man. i dare say, i got some hostile looks from the women.


i did not uncover male survivor resources until well after 2003 - the year i joined ms.org - and to this day, the resources in this area are next to nonexistent.

as an educated enlightened first-world society which is part of a so-called civilized global community, we are far from where we ought to be.
if one were to examine the support resources available for male survivors of sexual assault and abuse, it would seem that we do not have interest or empathy for the boys.

speaking of "gender bias"
i just recently went through a policy battle with our city hall - which i won - regarding the prejudicial and arbitrary and discriminatory practices of public swimming pool staff toward men and cell phones. i was publicly approached - notified, questioned, interrogated, reprimanded, warned, embarrassed, humiliated, etc - on three separate occasion at three different publicly owned venues and told that cell phones were not allowed at the pool because parents did not want strangers making images of their children in bathing suits. i was taking photos of my own kids taking swimming lessons (1st incident), checking my email (2nd occasion), and making a video of my son playing his first water polo game (3rd occurrence). on the first incident, the staff member was a big man, who loudly accused me of taking pictures of kids and then took my phone from me and filed through the pics until he was satisfied that i was not a perv. then he handed the phone back and said there was a 'no camera' policy at the pool, and walked away without apology or goodbye. this turned out to be a lie. there was a 'no policy' policy. the last incident was the one that put me over the top, although the first one was the most embarrassing. while i was being told, by the lifeguard, and later his supervisor, that there was a "no camera phone" policy (which i knew to be untrue) i pointed out that there were at least ten females within eyesight, ages 15 to 50, that were openly using their cell phones.

that was the final straw, so i went to city hall and threatened a gender discrimination lawsuit. within twenty minutes, i was sitting with the top superintendent of recreation facilities, and we had written a decent and practical policy for the staff to deal with complaints and concerns from understandably cautious parents protecting their kids from exploitation through image theft.

i am very proud of that policy.

i am very pleased that the city immediately understood my issue regarding the prejudice against men.

on an interesting side note, while we are on the topic of discrimination and profiling...
while i was at the city hall, hanging with the mayor, i left to go to the washroom and a security guard spotted me and decided that i had no business being in the building and started to harass me with questions and followed me right into the men's toilet, kept talking to me, standing right behind me as i stood at the urinal, telling me i had to leave, then pestered and threatened me with expulsion as i ignored him all the way back to the mayor.

he was forced to apologize and explain his actions by the head of security. he said, "i did not look like i belonged there." but could not give a detailed explanation of what that meant. i know it is because i look like a musician, which a lot of shallow thinking idiots mistake for criminal or addict.
 

rileyk86

Registrant
I have been abused by women all my life until two years ago when I started living alone (I'm 33). My step mother sexually and physically abused me, from 6-8, my mother has always been emotionally abusive from my infancy until today, my ex-wife was sexually and emotionally abusive.

I can't stand anything that celebrates women. Except for a few exceptions in my family, I have never known a non-abusive woman. So I can understand not wanting to praise women for the mere fact of having a vagina.
 
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