Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Lucky McKee at Sundance: The Woman and the White Knight

The Woman
After a midnight showing of horror director Lucky McKee's The Woman at Sundance this past Sunday, right before the scheduled Q and A with the director, one irate moviegoer stood up to denouce the film, the director, and Sundance itself. According to film blogger Drew McWeeny, who was there, the unidentified man shouted:

"THIS MOVIE DEGRADES WOMEN! THIS MOVIE DEGRADES MEN! YOU ARE SICK! THIS IS NOT ART! YOU ARE SICK! THIS IS A DISGUSTING MOVIE! SUNDANCE SHOULD BE ASHAMED! HOW DARE YOU SHOW THIS!"

Ultimately, after a bit more of this sort of ranting, he was escorted out of the theater by security guards. You can read more about the incident, and see a couple of videos that capture its aftermath, here; you can read McKee's response to it all here.

So what's the connection to this blog? At this point, many of my regular MRA and other manosphere readers will no doubt have concluded that I will be joining the irate moviegoer in denouncing McKee's alleged misogyny. If so, this will not be the first time (or even the first time today) that they have been utterly and completely wrong.

No, It's because the incident provides such a clear example of a "White Knight" in action: someone who seems to think that women are delicate flowers that he, as a man, needs to protect from images of women being brutalized.

MRAs and other manosphere men love to denounce feminist men as "White Knights." And sometimes they are justified in their complaints: there are men who consider themselves feminists who  do indeed put women on a pedestal, and who talk about women as if their shit smells like roses. But that's not really feminism; it's a patronizingly traditional view of women masquerading as feminism. Real feminists don't pretend that women don't have flaws. White Knights do.* Real feminists don't assume that women are too sensitive and delicate to see harsh images. White Knights do.

The irony of the kerfuffle at Sundance is that McKee is about as far from a misogynist as any director I know. Though, as far as I know, McKee doesn't actually call himself a feminist, his films reflect a subtle, nuanced, and sympathetic view of women -- at their best and, just as importantly, at their worst -- that can only be called feminist. As McWeeny notes, McKee's

sensitivity towards his actresses, and the perspective each of his films takes, is practically political.  He returns to themes of power inequality and gender struggle, and he externalizes his subtext.  He has been consistent in his interests, and as a result, he hasn't been making $50 million studio films.

His films May and The Woods, and his Masters of Horror episode "Sick Girl" all center around female lead characters. But he doesn't, as a real "white knight" would do, portray women as angels or innocent victims. No, he portrays them as, well, human beings. That is, as messy and complicated characters with flaws and evil impulses.

In May, while he is empathetic towards weirdo loner May, he also makes clear she's out of her fucking mind, a creepy stalker and a violent sociopath to boot; she's both the protgonist and the villain of the film. Nor does he portray men as mindless evil thugs: in Roman -- which he wrote,  but which was directed by his frequent collaborator Angela Bettis, who played the lead in May -- he plays, er, Roman, another strange outcast and creepy stalker, and manages to render him quite sympathetic, despite the fact that the socially stunted,  sexually and romantically frustrated character (SPOILER ALERT -- highlight to read) actually kills a woman while trying to rape her early on in the film. 

In The Woods, a more mainstream horror film, McKee portrays the almost-all-female world of a private girl's school in the 1960s; he does a marvellous job getting into the head of the troubled girl at the center of the film, and plays with female stereotypes in a way that challenges and surprises the viewer. (I'm being deliberately vague here so as not to give too much away.) The villains in the film? All female.

Still, I can see how a less-than-careful viewer might get the impression that McKee hates women: many of his female characters, both women and girls, are crazy, violent, and sometimes simply evil; he isn't afraid to show women being brutalized -- or brutalizing others. In this view, if you portray a female character as evil, you therefore think all women are inherently evil; if you portray violence against women you aid and abet real-world brutalizers of women.

That's the essential complaint of one putatively feminist critic on Pajiba, Dustin Rowles, who saw The Woman at Sundance:

The more images of sexualized and subjugated women we see, the less likely things are going to improve. They perpetuate steretypes about women. Lucky McKee’s The Woman is the perfect example of this.

Correction: Rowles saw PART of the film at Sundance, then walked out:

I’m certain that, like many rape-revenge fantasies, the men get their commuppance in the end, both the father and his son, who has taken after his father. I wouldn’t know — I couldn’t make it past the scene where the woman is power washed.

Criticizing a film without watching the ending -- particularly a horror film based around a rape-revenge plot -- is a bit like criticizing a joke without hearing the punchline.

Now, again, I haven't seen even a minute of The Woman either, so maybe it is really a long exercise in violent misogyny. Given McKee's past work, and the nature of the complaints against the film, this seems about as unlikely as Sarah Palin sprouting wings, reading a book, and/or endorsing a handgun ban.

What really strikes me is that the complaints directed at The Woman are similar to those directed against numerous other horror films in the past, particularly those centered around rape and revenge, like the notorious low-budget shocker I Spit On Your Grave, which inspired a infamously indignant, and rather White-Knighty, column from Roger Ebert that completely and utterly missed the point of the film. It was, he wrote,

a movie so sick, reprehensible and contemptible that I can hardly believe it's playing in respectable theaters. ... an expression of the most diseased and perverted darker human natures, Because it is made artlessly, It flaunts its motives: There is no reason to see this movie except to be entertained by the sight of sadism and suffering. As a critic, I have never condemned the use of violence in films if I felt the filmmakers had an artistic reason for employing it. "I Spit on Your Grave" does not. It is a geek show.

Ebert was angry about the brutal and graphic sexual violence directed at the female lead in the first part of the film -- that is, before she sets out on her (brutal, graphic, violent) revenge against the men who brutalized her. Never mind that the central plot of, say, your typical Western movie features a hero who has to endure horrific violence and pain before exacting his revenge at the end -- and that this formula has produced a vast library of amazing films.

Ebert rightly considers The Good, the Bad and the Ugly to be a "masterpiece." You may recall some of the crazy and brutal shit Clint Eastwood's Blondie had to endure in that film -- you know, like that walk through the desert that left his skin looking like pulled pork. Why is violence against men, in the context of a revenge drama, artistically justified, while violence against women, also in the context of a revenge drama, not?

By allowing its brutalized heroine the same chance for revenge that Westerns offered many generations of heroes, I Spit On Your Grave is, while hardly a great film, a feminist one. Indeed, it offers one of the most memorable depictions of what has come to be known as "the final girl," a character familiar to horror movie fans -- that is, the one victim, invariably female, who manages, through wily evasions and sheer force of will, to survive the assaults of the monster or psycho at the center of the film. Here's how feminist film critic Carol J. Clover described her in the legendary essay "Her Body, Himself: Gender in the Slasher Film," which first introduced the notion of the"final girl" to film criticism:

The image of the distressed female most likely to linger in memory is the image of the one who did not die: the survivor, or Final Girl. She is the one who encounters the mutilated bodies of her friends and perceives the full extent of the preceding horror and of her own peril; who is chased, cornered, wounded; whom we see scream, stagger, fall, rise, and scream again. She is abject terror personified. If her friends knew they were about to die only seconds before the event, the Final Girl lives with the knowledge for long minutes or hours. She alone looks death in the face; but she alone also finds the strength either to stay the killer long enough to be rescued (ending A) or to kill him herself (ending B). She is inevitably female.

Halloween 2: Final Girl in action
As Clover notes, in some horror films, like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Halloween, the final girl merely endures; in others, like A Nightmare on Elm Street, she triumphs. Most of these final girls don't start out as badass in the slightest; if anything, they tend to be nerdy, awkward introverts. The brutality they endure is necessary to understand their transformations.

"Protecting" female film characters from violence also "protects" them from having agency in their own stories. Portraying them as free of evil thoughts and urges is similarly patronizing and ultimately disempowering. Women in the real world aren't angels, and there's nothing feminist about portraying them as such. Like McKee, most feminists are well aware of this.  True "White Knights" -- male or female -- do the women they hope to uplift a disservice, treating them as one-dimensional characters in some simplistic morality play. Women, like men, deserve better than that.

--

* This is not to say that we should overlook the simple fact that women are more likely to be brutalized by men than vice versa -- that men commit far more violent crimes and sexual assaults against women than women do against men, that men cause the majority of serious injuries associated with domestic violence. Women, like men, have violent impulses. But they are less likely than men to act upon them in ways that seriously damage others, male or female. To point this out is to recognize reality; it is not a case of White Knighting.

--

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57 comments:

  1. a lot of feminists in the blogosphere had the same reaction two years ago to deadgirl, while horrifying, does the same things that you say the woman does.

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  2. **This is not to say that we should overlook the simple fact that women are more likely to be brutalized by men than vice versa -- that men commit far more violent crimes and sexual assaults against women than women do against men, that men cause the majority of serious injuries associated with domestic violence. Women, like men, have violent impulses. But they are less likely than men to act upon them in ways that seriously damage others, male or female. To point this out is to recognize reality; it is not a case of White Knighting.**
    ________

    With due respect David, you are omitting a crucial part of the picture. Women as the primary nurturers of children are also the primary abusers of children.

    That is to say, children are most likely to first learn violence from their primary abuser. And abused children have a higher likelihood to go on to become abusive adults.

    From Child Maltreatment 2002 (Administration for Children and Families. Child Maltreatment 2002. Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C., 2002. Based on data collected via the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System – NCANDS, National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information):
    1) We know that women comprised 58.3% of the perpetrators of child abuse and men comprised 41.7% (Figure 5-1 of the Child Maltreatment Report and accompanying Table 5-1, Age and Sex of Perpetrators );
    2) We also know that 32.6% of child fatalities were perpetrated by the mother acting alone, while 16.6% of child fatalities were perpetrated by the father acting alone (Figure 4-2 of the Child Maltreatment Report, Fatalities by Perpetrator Relationship). That is to say: Approximately twice as many mothers as fathers are responsible for the fatalities of their children.

    I appreciate that my "systemic" perspective is not generally accepted in our linear-thinking (reductionist) zeitgeist. But the argument that I present is that all cultural phenomena are ultimately inter-related, and to omit this crucial interconnectedness is to fail to understand how living systems, like cultures, operate.

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  3. A few years ago my wife was knee deep in an altercation with a local politician, it was getting the best of her. She phoned saying that she needed a night of self-pity, I rented a silly looking movie and opened up a bottle of wine.

    It was the movie May. She laid her head across my lap and shed a few tears while we watched it, in the end she was laughing. When I said, “ See darling even if they win you can always Make new friends” all bets were off, the self-pity moment was well over.

    Neither of us are horror fans, but there was something about the movie May that was so earnestly funny?, that we both give that movie some credit for our substantial win.

    So hats off to the filmmaker, the next time one of us needs whatever it was May brought out in both of us that night we’ll be sure to rent that film!

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  4. Chuckeedee

    When you look at the stats on child abuse and cross reference them with time spent as a caregiver of children those statistics you quote come out quite unflattering for men.

    A riddle for you.

    Men drive more then women. The vast majority of long distance truck drivers are men. Men are involved in many more collisions then women.

    Who are the better drivers?

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  5. Sorry Elizabeth the answer was puppies :)

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  6. If I may make a comment to the premise of the argument you're making (as best I can make it out)?

    I think there is a difference between showing people having violent throwdowns of one sort or another and showing sexual violence, if only because they exist in very different social contexts. Violence can be righteous or brutal or any number of things; you can punch someone to break their bones, to torture them, to get them back for a lame joke, etc. but rape and sexual violence tend to be about humiliation and/or titillation.

    Now, I do agree wholeheartedly that everyone regardless of gender should be treated largely the same, but Clint Eastwood's never been raped in a film. Maybe this is a lack of cinematic knowledge upon my part but I can't think of a rape/revenge film centering on a guy, in fact.

    Similarly, if this were a straight-up revenge flick where something belonging or precious to the titular woman were in some way stolen, damaged or otherwise done-wrong and she went on a rampage on the malefactors in question, getting beat to shit along the way as the protagonist of a straight-up revenge film does, I don't think there'd be quite the reaction.

    The whole rape/revenge genre does seem to be a lot about shock/titillation followed by a rousing round of violence after the fact to make the viewer feel better about having watched the rape in the first place.

    I think people in this case are reacting to what sounds like pretty sexualized violence against a woman played in the long form which... yeah, maybe this makes me a White Knight, but even though I'm not saying it should be banned, I do think it has a whiff of the exploitative about it, just in theory.

    Of course, like yourself, I haven't seen the film and I did enjoy "May" quite a bit. I'm sure I'll have an actual opinion of the film itself once I've seen it, but I do think there might be more criticism of the film than just white-knighting.

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  7. "I can't think of a rape/revenge film centering on a guy, in fact."

    There's a brilliant, disturbing and very darkly funny Belgian film called Calvaire that sort of fits that description. Sort of. It's more like an all male-version of a horror film in which the final girl is a guy.

    As for rape-revenge films being about titillation, most of those I've seen really aren't. There's really nothing titillating about the rapes in I Spit on Your Grave, the original film anyway (haven's een the remake). Or the rapes in Ms. 45, which actually is a pretty good film to boot.

    I'm not sure where Deadgirl fits in all of this, given that the titular character is sort-of dead. I basically read it as a feminist film. Definitely one that could encourage a lot of very interesting discussions.

    McKee's earlier films (despite the, er, "makign friends" bit in May) aren't really all that gruesome or horrifying; The Woman sounds much more brutal. But I will definitely be seeing it.

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  8. "Halloween 2: Final Girl in action?"
    I believe that shot is from the first Halloween.

    "This is not to say that we should overlook the simple fact that women are more likely to be brutalized by men than vice versa -- that men commit far more violent crimes and sexual assaults against women than women do against men, that men cause the majority of serious injuries associated with domestic violence. Women, like men, have violent impulses. But they are less likely than men to act upon them in ways that seriously damage others, male or female. To point this out is to recognize reality; it is not a case of White Knighting."

    Men hurt their enemies differently than women do. Not more. Women use emotions as weapons. While you may not consider women to be 'white as snow' you still considers men more harmful, bad, etc. for the same reason whiteknights do. They are less (physically) violent therefore they do little 'serious damage'. Never mind that a lot of that 'unserious' damage often snowballs into serious damage over time.

    You are still a whiteknight David. Just not YOUR caricature of one.

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  9. evilwhitemale empire.

    Emotions hurt more then a punch?

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  10. Men hurt their enemies differently than women do. Not more. Women use emotions as weapons.

    Well, so do men. I'm not sure anyone really knows if men or women do more of it. Emotional damage is far harder to measure than physical damage. Do you have anything to back up your generalizations here?

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  11. evilwhite talks about his emotions getting hurt then calls someone a mangina

    Would evilwhite like his head patted while he talks about women being too emtional?

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  12. Kave, there are many dimensions to "systemic". I provided the one only because I had the references at my finger-tips. Other dimensions include:
    1) Munchausen's-syndrome-by-proxy (overwhelmingly female perpetrators);
    2) Infanticide (overwhelmingly female perpetrators);
    3) The various types of men that women validate in the choices they make, like the frat boy, the psychopath, the serial killer and the rapist.

    ... and so on.

    The love letters that women submit to violent criminals you may like to dismiss as the isolated workings of aberrant minds, but the more realist interpretation is that they reflect something about the culture and how it interprets authority;

    "Systemic" means that you have to consider everything from the subtleties of how a mother defers to (respects) violent authority through to history, the words in a language, and so on. For example, the question of how a culture interprets authority, civility, morality.

    While I take your point about exposure and the time spent doing something (like truck driving or parenting), ultimately this is but one slice from a much broader whole.

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  13. "Do you have anything to back up your generalizations here?"
    http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9c05e5d81e3ff937a15751c0a9649c8b63

    "Emotional damage is far harder to measure than physical damage."

    Is it?
    You think post office employees just 'go postal' without provocation of any kind? (bad blood between labor and management, between employees, etc.)

    You see only one domino in a ten domino chain. Violence doesn't just happen. It's the result of cascades.
    e.g. Dude A yells at dude B. Dude B takes it out on dude C who in turn takes it out on dude D who has unluckily been taking it from a bunch of other dudes (each with their own cascades).

    If dude D snaps then it's entirely his fault.

    incidentally...

    Girl A dumps on girl B. Girl B takes it out on girl C who then takes it out on girl D who has been taking it from a lot of other girls.

    If girl D snaps it's probably the fault of the nearest man.

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  14. evil, I said that emotional damage is harder to MEASURE, not that it doesn't exist. As for your link, I am well aware that girls can be cruel, as are most people who've ever met girls. Heck, there was a movie about mean girls that came out not that long ago; I believe it was called Mean Girls.

    We were actually discussing violence and aggression between adults. So I ask again: do you have any evidence on emotional aggression between men and women, who does what, who does more, etc etc. Again, like I said, this sort of thing is hard to MEASURE. If someone has done good work on this I would like to see it.

    Whatever point you were trying to make with Dude A and Dude B and the rest, uh, you failed to make. I don't think like that and I don't know anyone who does.

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  15. I disagree about rape-revenge films. While I do think there are rare exceptions, most of them are rather exploitative and putting suffering on showcase. While revenge narratives do happen with male leads, those films are far less likely to focus on physical or sexualized torture of the male lead (often, the revenge is not for the male lead at all, but for some nameless wife or girlfriend who gets offed in the first five minutes and is forgotten by halfway through when the new girl arrives). Torture scenes with a male lead in a revenge plot are generally short, or nonexistent (told in speech by a character). They also tend to depict types of violence unlikley to occur in reality, making the cheapening of violence that is so common in such films less intense (women do get raped and beaten by classmates or killed by ex-boyfriends, men are assaulted by a pack of ninjas or spies rarely to never). Revenge films with a female lead are horror, revenge films with a male lead are action. Salt, (a rather bad film, plot and writing wise) starring Angelina Jolie actually was written for a male lead, and the violence and reaction to it is extremely different than revenge plots written for female leads (and, again, the violence is unusual-battling a secret spy assassination group).

    And, the thing about the 'final girl' in slasher flicks is those films love to play a 'virgin/whore' dicotomy with female characters. The sexualized, loud, or butch women are routinely killed off first. The final survivor is white, thin, rather submissive in general, usually a an actual virgin (or pretty damned close).

    It's not that I think that plot lines involving violence against women or with revenge plots with a female lead can't be done well, it is just that they rarely are.

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  16. "We were actually discussing violence and aggression between adults."

    No. You were actually discussing violence and aggression between/among (human) males and females.
    You RETROACTIVELY confined your argument to 'adults' when it suited your purposes.
    Of course such disingenuity IS a hallmark of creationists and other right wing Christian types (your sworn enemies) just so you know.

    "Whatever point you were trying to make with Dude A and Dude B and the rest, uh, you failed to make. I don't think like that and I don't know anyone who does."

    I know you don't think like that. OR you wouldn't be on your side of the fence.

    "I said that emotional damage is harder to MEASURE, not that it doesn't exist."

    Oh look! David scored an (actual) point for a change. Yay David! (clap clap)
    Well... sort of.
    If you HAD been able to understand all that dude A, dude B stuff then you could have worked out for yourself that emotional distress, trauma, etc. can be measured (same as physical violence) by the very physical violence that manifests at the end of the cascades.

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  17. There is nothing feminist about 'I Spit On Your Grave'. There is nothing feminist about showing someone being raped for extended sequences by a gang, then killing them violently. The protaganist survives, but as what?

    Rape victims are often 'called to arms' by people who are not rape victims. No one should be expected to respond violently to a rape, and as I did not respond violently due to my own physical strength apart from anything else, I was later criticised. These revenge fantasies might look empowering to an outsider...but as a victim, I would beg to differ.

    Rape is almost never treated respectfully in films. It is either graphic or romanticised, totally destroying someone or not affecting them at all. Rape revenge fantasies are nothing new, and they usually involve men saving women or killing their rapists.

    I enjoyed 'May' and this movie seems to have a premise not entirely based around rape and murder, but I am tired of rape being sensationalised and included in movies where it will not be treated sensitively.

    I've also noticed that both 'I Spit On Your Grave' and the equally upsetting 'Last House On The Left' have had Hollywood remakes in the last two years. The latter was a revenge fantasy, but not of the young girls who are raped, they are long dead. I would really like to ask what you think is 'feminist' about these movies.

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  18. evil, to clarify, the part of the Dude A stuff I disagreed with was your insinuation that people routinely conclude that "If dude D snaps then it's entirely his fault," whereas "If girl D snaps it's probably the fault of the nearest man."

    Again, I don't think like that, and neither does anyone I know. Whenever someone commits violence, male or female, people try to figure out what caused, or motivated, or triggered it. They don't immediately turn to ridiculous stereotyped non-explanations.

    If you want to discuss all forms of aggression between males and females regardless of age, fine. What I have been asking for from the start is some evidence to back up the assertions of yours I quoted above. You have not provided any. The mean girls article you linked to is interesting, but it doesn't answer the question.

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  19. laura, obviously I don't have the perspective on this that you do. But my take is: the rapes in I Spit on Your Grave are horrifying, not titillating; they depict rape for what it is, a horrible act of violence; they make the audience uncomfortable, and they're supposed to make the audience uncomfortable. This is very different to many Hollywood films of the time and earlier that glamorize or trivialize rape.

    The film also depicts the way in which men can goad one another into violent acts, the ways in which their retrograde notions about women and sex feed into their violence.

    Rape victims are often 'called to arms' by people who are not rape victims. No one should be expected to respond violently to a rape, and as I did not respond violently due to my own physical strength apart from anything else, I was later criticised. These revenge fantasies might look empowering to an outsider...but as a victim, I would beg to differ.

    I have no good answer to this. All I can say is that I don't think the filmmakers intended to stigmatize women who do not/cannot fight back. While the rapes depicted in the film are realistic, the revenge part of the film is more fantastic -- as is the case with many revenge films involving male protagonists, whether serious films or completely unrealistic action flicks.

    Last House on the Left? I don't know what to say about it. It's extremely disturbing, and from interviews I've seen with Wes Craven about it, it apparently disturbed the filmmakers when they were making the film. Is it a good film? I don;'t know. Is it a feminist film? I don't know. I think Craven does have feminist leanings, and I think some of his later films are clearly influenced by feminism and certainly by feminist film criticism. Last House is a lot closer to the id than those films are. I don't know what it means. All I know is that it unsettled me.

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  20. I'm not really questioning whether the writers etc. define themselves as feminist, that doesn't bother me, I'm just unsettled by a movie depicting brutal rape and then brutal murder being called 'feminist', even if it isn't good.

    I'm sick of rape as a plot device, I'm sick of rape as an excuse for other forms of violence being shown, I'm sick as rape as a motivator for characters. A feminist movie about rape may show rape in it's true horror, but it would also show realistic consequences. What about a film where a woman is raped by her boyfriend, tries to report it, and no one gives a fuck? But eventually she proves herself through her awesome detective work or something. I don't know, I'm not pitching this very well!

    It's not a coincidence that both 'I Spit on Your Grave' and 'Last House' have a stranger-gang rape. Statistically the least likely, but definitely the most sensational, graphic and violent, so let's choose that one.

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  21. "I can't think of a rape/revenge film centering on a guy, in fact."

    Hello, Deliverance?

    There was also a strange sort of movie called The Book of Revelation about a male victim of female gang rapists. He makes a half-assed attempt at revenge, but only ends up in trouble with the law. I call it strange because I honestly couldn't tell if it was supposed to be titillating or not.

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  22. I agree with laura, there are a ton of exploitative movies with rape plots and "I Spit on Your Grave" and "Last House" fall squarely in that category. I do not have a problem with rape as a plot device, I have a problem with rape as a cheap plot device, as a luxuriation in scenes of graphic violence against women. There is a world of difference between "I Spit on Your Grave" or "Last House" and "Hound Dog", "Lady Vengeance", and "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo", though all use rape/violence and/or revenge as a plot line.

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  23. DarkSideCat, I agree, rape is an important issue and should be examined in plots. I read Dragon Tattoo as well and hated it for mostly the same reasons, despite the movie being about other stuff. I don't understand all the praise the book got, to me it was a pretty basic crime thriller with author insertation and the rape and torture of women.

    I have seen rape used in movies well, e.g. a tv-movie here called 'The Mark of Cain' which examined prisoner abuse by British soliders in Iraq. It showed sexual assault, consequences and used these things to make a good, critical point about the way our military is run.

    The fact is, if you are raped you will probably never see justice. I undestand the need to force justice into movies to satisfy the audience, but I feel patronised to even consider that murder and violence should be the way to 'get over' a rape.

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  24. I'm not a big fan of horror movies, so I might have a warped perspective here. My impression of horror and action movies, though, is that they exist mainly as a vehicle for violence. Watching people meet their gory, improbable end and watching things blow up is at the center of the fun. Contrast this with a non-action/horror movie, where violence is generally jarring, unsettling, etc., just like real life. So considering that violence in a horror movie setting is titillation, why would violent rape in a horror movie setting not be titillating? And why is it necessary to drive a revenge fantasy - you mention other McKee movies that don't need it, and at least two Tarantino movies have female-centered revenge plots that don't rely on rape.

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  25. opinions, Some horror movies exist mainly as a vehicle for violence and/or gore, but plenty don't, and some of the creepiest have virtually no violence or gore in them at all. Certainly in many horror films (and in I Spit On Your Grave and Last House on the Left), the violence IS jarring, unsettling, etc.

    Rape-revenge movies are sort of their own genre, and have as much in common with, for example, some Westerns as they do with horror films: hero/heroine endures terrible pain and injustice, but survives and triumphs at the end, though there's not usually any high-fiving like you see in action films. It is a very old story. (Indeed, Last House on the Left was based on a Bergman film that was itself based on an 13th century Swedish balad.)

    why would violent rape in a horror movie setting not be titillating?

    It can be, but in I Spit on Your GRave, it's just not. The rape scenes in I Spit on Your Grave are very clearly NOT part of "the fun" of the movie; there isn't anything "fun" about them. They are there to make the audience uncomfortable, and to justify the protagonist's later acts of revenge. The violence the protagonist later inflicts upon the rapists doesn't have the same sense of unease about it because you are rooting for her and you know that the victims deserve it.

    That said, the ads for ISOYG, including the most famous poster associated with it, showing the protagonist in short shorts, ARE exploitative. But they actually misrepresent the film itself.

    laura: I undestand the need to force justice into movies to satisfy the audience, but I feel patronised to even consider that murder and violence should be the way to 'get over' a rape.

    I don't know what to say to this other than "it's a movie." The fact that the movie depicts a rape victim exacting violent revenge doesn't mean that the filmmakers are saying that this is how rape victims should do this in real life in order to "get over" their rape, or that they think rape is somehow easy to "get over."

    I think many -- though by no means all -- horror films handle violence and its consequences better than most action films and better, even, than many dramas. In horror films we see how, well, horrible violence can be; unlike the victors in an action film who high-five one another and engage in witty banter (even though they may have just seen many people close to them get killed, may have endured really horrible torture, etc). In horror films the survivors are generally pretty shell-shocked by it all, and very aware of loss.

    There are of course other horror movies filled with cartoonish violence and gore, or over the top action. I would consider those to be horror comedies or action-horror; they aren't classical horror films.

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  26. What about a film where a woman is raped by her boyfriend, tries to report it, and no one gives a fuck? But eventually she proves herself through her awesome detective work or something. I don't know, I'm not pitching this very well!

    This was the first season of Veronica Mars, at least up until the end. Without giving away too many details, at the end of the season they really kind of muddied the waters in an unsatisfying way. Like I said, I don't want to spoil it.

    But Veronica Mars is nicely nuanced because it doesn't revolve solely around the rape and Veronica isn't some one-dimensional rape victim. And her rape is part of the mystery that she solves, but it's not the entire mystery. The main consequence of the rape is that she has to spend season one of the show contending with a local police force that's convinced that she's an attention-seeking liar because they didn't believe her initial accusation of rape.

    So yeah, I liked it.

    I agree that the rape/revenge fantasy is exploitative. As laura pointed out, most such movies focus on stranger rape, which is the most common stereotype of rape and the least like reality. People talk about stranger rape to avoid a lot of the thorny social issues surrounding rape, such as the difficulty people have in accusing a friend or family member of rape in front of a bunch of other friends or family members, and the accompanying fear (often justified) that the friends or family will take the rapist's side.

    Stranger rape as a plot device is also designed to avoid those issues. It's a lot easier to go on some violent rampage against some villainous monster you'd never met before he raped you. It completely sidesteps all the social issues. Would the average person be as willing to execute some violent fantasy against an uncle, or a cousin, or a brother? How does a family deal with a situation like that? Hollywood doesn't really want to open that can of worms. Our society remains convinced that the family structure is ultimately sound and necessary, and we ignore all the abuse and rape - and more importantly, the way society looks the other way the majority of the time - within families because it threatens that notion.

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  27. I've seen both "I spit on your grave" and "Ms .45" and I think that "Ms 45" is better. The main problem with "I spit on your grave" is that it's very cheaply done. But on the other hand, even if it's exploitative, it's not titillating at all. It's different from these Japanese horror movies where rape is shown as something erotic.

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  28. David, I am glad you do not find rape in movies to be part of the fun. It's not true of everyone, unfortunately.

    Rape scenes don't have to be sexy to *you* to be sexy to rapists.

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  29. There are a lot of intelligent (I think) feminist criticisms of the use of rape as a plot device. I wish I could find you shadesong's (Shira Lipkin's) discussion of how rape is often used as lazy shorthand for "vulnerable woman" or "evil man," but unfortunately google doesn't index livejournal very well.

    Here's Angry Black Woman on the subject.

    I don't agree with some of the more extreme positions on rape in fiction (not that Lipkin or Bradford are taking extreme positions). I think rape can be used as a plot device (my google search for "rape plot device" turned up someone saying "I'm not sure rape should ever be used as a plot device"). I do think that films showing rape and murder can be feminist (would one argue that HANDMAID'S TALE is not a feminist book?). While it's distressing to think that rapists are turned on by rape scenes in fiction or movies, I am unwilling to censor my art or my art appreciation because someone might use that art in a way I don't like.

    But I also think it's important not to entirely dismiss the criticism of rape as a central motivating mythos for women in horror films, female superheroes, and so on. Many women experience rape; that's part of reality, and should, in my opinion, be depicted in art. To declare the topic off limits invites limiting discussion of real world issues. But it is disproportionately, and often inaccurately, depicted in art (as someone mentioned above when pointing to the preponderance of stranger rapes).

    A woman's primary vulnerability is not that she can be raped. Women have life and blood and limb, not just penetrable genitalia. Men, of course, can also be raped. And rapists are not unidimensionally evil.

    The problems with reinforcing the above narratives don't lie with any individual work of art, but rather with the aggregate representations of femininity and rape that appear in our culture. Thus, movies like the ones you're describing may be in their particular feminist, and simultaneously as part of a larger body of work, contribute to partriarchal narratives. I don't say that to suggest that the film shouldn't be made or enjoyed, but rather to say that any work of art is going to exist in an ambiguous place, and it's reasonable to engage with both positive feminist content and negative larger cultural resonances, without minimizing or negating either.

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  30. Article: “It's because the incident provides such a clear example of a "White Knight" in action:”

    Yup. Good call. Nice to see the change of pace and you agreeing with MRA’s on something.

    “MRAs and other manosphere men love to denounce feminist men as "White Knights."”

    Not all feminists, and not just feminists. Anyone who behaves as described by your above quote. Most feminist males are referred to as mangina’s, which is different then a white night, in that a mangina will cater to a feminist/women’s needs/best interests above his own, but does so to please the women as opposed to because he feels she needs it. At least, that’s my understanding of the terms.

    “Though, as far as I know, McKee doesn't actually call himself a feminist, his films reflect a subtle, nuanced, and sympathetic view of women -- at their best and, just as importantly, at their worst -- that can only be called feminist.”

    I wouldn’t say that can “only” be called feminism. Egalitarian works too. As does respectful but not politically aligned. If someone doesn’t call themselves a feminist, it is disrespectful to insist they be labelled as such, especially given the backlash feminism is starting to receive.

    AlephZ: “but I can't think of a rape/revenge film centering on a guy, in fact.”

    That’s because male rape is usually a punch line in a comedy, like 40 Days and 40 Nights or wedding crashers. But yeah, even that is rare.

    Kave: “Emotions hurt more then a punch?”

    Psychological damage does indeed last longer, and cause greater personal issues then bruises. And are far more cumulative. Not that I’m saying women hurt men more then men hurt women because of this, physical assault carries it’s own emotional damage, but your dismissal of emotional assault altogether is actually quite offensive, to both male and female victims.

    David: “evil, I said that emotional damage is harder to MEASURE, not that it doesn't exist.”

    Kave on the other hand, who’s quote pre-ceded the comment you quoted, dismissed emotional damage altogether. I quoted it directly above.


    Overall, I am not a fan of horrors, rape or otherwise. It really bothers me that films such as the SAW franchise can get any attention at all, let alone a budget. Movies like that are nothing more then criminal porn (sex is at least legal, murder isn’t, yet is deemed more acceptable on film). I do like psychological thrillers, but that’s a different genre. As such, I really don’t have much to contribute on the movies themselves.

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  31. First of all, the attempted juxtaposition between emotional abuse and physical abuse, with the claim that emotional abuse is the worse kind is nonsensical -- but to the extent that it's meant to suggest that women's broken bones are nothing against men's bruised egos, that assault by undercooked dinner is incalculably worse than assault by a fist, the claim proceeds from the old conviction that women's feelings and emotions are these ridiculous "girly" things that don't need to be taken seriously.

    In reality, having one's nose broken as a result of physical assault isn't the same as having one's nose broken as a result of falling off a bike. Emotional abuse is very much a part of physical abuse and explains to a large extent why victims of horrific physical abuse don't leave their abusers. Being beaten by one's husband or boyfriend doesn't just result in fleeting physical pain, or the inconvenience of an emergency room visit, or the expense of using up one's sick days and vacation time at work, or the embarrassment of walking around with bruises. It's also the terror of knowing full well another crushing blow is coming, but not knowing when; the humiliation that every torture victim feels of being reduced to a prisoner within her own body; the helplessness that comes with being physically brutalized. Physical abuse never exists by itself. It's physical abuse PLUS emotional abuse -- versus just emotional abuse. So any claim to the effect that being called a "loser" is the equivalent of having one's head smashed into a wall, or maybe worse, is ludicrous.

    As for the substance, much of our perception of violent movies is a matter of personal preference. Personally, I don't like movies that explicitly dwell on physical brutality, regardless of whether the victim is male or female. There is a point at which the movie has lingered lovingly on punches and thrusts for so long, the suffering and the humiliation are no longer a plot element, but the focus of the film in and of itself, and to that extent, it's pornographic. Again, this is a matter of personal perception, but I don't think there is ever a legitimate artistic reason for a 10-minute rape scene ("Irreversible") or an hour-long lashing ("The Passion of the Christ"). While suffering certainly has a prominent place in drama, extremely graphic physical depiction of it tends to appeal to certain people and certain desires that I find disturbing. And I don't find deep meaning in films whose purpose seems primarily to offend. But that's just me.

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  32. @Amused, I'm just curious if you were speaking to anyone in particular, or just repeating what I've already said, but being far more verbose...

    Kratch said: "Not that I’m saying women hurt men more then men hurt women because of this, physical assault carries it’s own emotional damage,"

    Regardless, I'd like to thank you for supporting what I said (regardless of intentions) by acknowledging that emotional damage is indeed more damaging then physical damage. When someone is abused, it is the emotional damage they suffer from, the physical damage heals.

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  33. physical abuse causes emotional abuse, and if the physical abuse is severe, you can come away with a physiological problem like a panic disorder or PTSD. Yes, you can get those things under emotional stress, but they'll come a lot quicker, and with more of a wallop with physical abuse.

    I thought this post was interesting on the topic of white knighting, I never quite knew what that was, I guessed by context. I did not realize that white knighting meant that the person doing it implies that women can do no wrong.

    I'm too tired to go into my big thing about some ideas tossed around in the name of feminism that I think are harmful and don't apply. I think that the bottom line is that women do not need to be portrayed as "strong", or have cultural pressure on them to be "strong" or "tough" according to a patriarchal value system. I feel that in this world we live in, that linear ladder way of thinking is so damaging. So many problems can be traced to this superior - inferior hierarchy thing. And some people's brilliant answer to that is to pretend that some people are not "weak" according to that shallow value system.

    I am weak. I cannot fight like Jennifer Lopez, heck her character barely pulled it off, and it took tons of training. I am not Angelina. My wrists are tiny, I'm just not strong. And so what? I'm just as valuable as any person. No I cannot defend myself physically. So what of it?

    I hate libertarian bullshit that makes it sound like anyone needing protection should be killed or devalued, but don't take their guns away by golly. I can't stand this mocking tone that some editorializing has, "this *notion* that women need to be protected."

    I said I wasn't going to get into this. Yes, first of all, a notion that an entire gender needs to be controlled because of any factor is strange. But seriously, is this some huge problem? No.

    Once upon a time when some bad men were being bad they said they had to be because women needed to be protected. Big deal,it was probably even considered a weak argument at the time. This is not some theory that needs constant debunking. Who are we arguing with here? Some imaginary man from 80 years ago that didn't care about the truth any way? Sorry, but my value system isn't a reaction to that imaginary guy.

    It's a much bigger problem in life that people don't care about each other and exploit each other. And seriously, what is the contemporary version of this argument? MRAs don't even say, well dear you have to stay home and do everything I say, because after all you need to be protected. Who the hell is making this argument anymore? No, but people are using it in the reverse as an excuse to oppress people, exploit people and tell them to pull themselves up by their bootstraps.

    This was the whole problem with the superwoman archetype that accidentally came out of the feminist movement, which Steinem said was unintentional. Now there are double burdens on women.

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  34. Laura, thanks for speaking up here. I agree with the things you said. I, too, am sick of rape being used as a plot device. and it IS exploitative. And FAR from feminist. Lastly, I fucking hate Girl With the Dragon Tattoo- the book and the movie. It's gratuitous rape porn. Ugh. I feel sick...

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  35. @Amused:

    All of the horrors of physical violence that you just described are not just feared by female victims. They are also feared by male victims, namely male victims of female-perpetrated physical abuse (weapons compensate for her smaller size), and falsely accused and incarcerated male victims of male-perpetrated physical abuse that occurs within the prison system. Years ago, when I refused to do the bidding of my then-wife, she used to grab the phone and hold her thumb on the 9 key, and threaten me that she would call 911 and accuse me of beating her, unless I did precisely what she asked me to do (such as coming to bed when she demanded it).

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  36. Feminist movies can be exploitative too. In 1979 there was feminist movie that was made in Quebec about rape called Mourrir a tue-tete (A Scream from Silence), since nobody would want to see a movie where there is a bunch of women discussing rape, in the movie they put a very explicit rape sequence – a woman is brutally beaten and the rapist pee on her face. The film was a success here. The director of the high-school that I was attending was a feminist and the movie was shown in the high-school so that every student could see it.

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  37. I am sick of MRAs attacking 'feminism' for not caring about male rape victims. We know people are raped in prison, men and women. It's awful and equally bad for men or women. Who ever said any different?

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  38. Laura-Magic.... Where did that come from?

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  39. JohnDias: "All of the horrors of physical violence that you just described are not just feared by female victims. They are also feared by male victims, namely male victims of female-perpetrated physical abuse (weapons compensate for her smaller size), and falsely accused and incarcerated male victims of male-perpetrated physical abuse that occurs within the prison system."

    I never suggested that men don't experience physical abuse. Rather, I was disputing the suggestion made earlier that physical abuse of women by men is kind of okay, because women engage in emotional abuse and it's worse than physical abuse. That's all.

    "Years ago, when I refused to do the bidding of my then-wife, she used to grab the phone and hold her thumb on the 9 key, and threaten me that she would call 911 and accuse me of beating her, unless I did precisely what she asked me to do (such as coming to bed when she demanded it)."

    Well, then your ex-wife's ideas about law enforcement and domestic violence were just as nonsensical as yours -- after all, from what I know, her picking up the phone could very easily be interpreted as an act of aggression. You could say she tried to hit you with it. The only way I see that a police officer would take her word for it without there being any physical evidence of abuse is if there was a prior incident in which the police answered a domestic violence call and found the scene to be consistent with her claims that you beat her. I don't know and I don't care.

    What's more noteworthy here is that, since she was your wife, I assume she shared your ideas about "proper" gender roles. I mean, that's one of the things that drew you to her in the first place -- right? Her rejection of feminism? Frankly, I don't see how feminism can be blamed for the actions of an avowed non-feminist, maybe even an anti-feminist, when those actions exploit patriarchal stereotypes. If you promote the mythos that women are perpetual victims of men's brutality and need constant saving -- don't be surprised when an unscrupulous person uses that myth to your disadvantage.

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  40. "Rather, I was disputing the suggestion made earlier that physical abuse of women by men is kind of okay, because women engage in emotional abuse and it's worse than physical abuse. That's all."

    Not sure where that "suggestion" is coming from. Please provide a quote. I see it all started when EvilWhiteMale said:

    "Men hurt their enemies differently than women do. Not more. Women use emotions as weapons. While you may not consider women to be 'white as snow' you still considers men more harmful, bad, etc. for the same reason whiteknights do. They are less (physically) violent therefore they do little 'serious damage'. Never mind that a lot of that 'unserious' damage often snowballs into serious damage over time."

    This acknowledges Women's ability to abuse as well. it in no way excuses ether type.

    Then Kave retorted:

    "Emotions hurt more then a punch?"

    This got followed by how emotional damage can, in fact, hurt more then a punch's physical damage (IE, talking of the singular action, not systemic occurrence), but this acknowledgment, again, in no way suggests that physical abuse is somehow okay because of emotional abuse.

    "The only way I see that a police officer would take her word for it without there being any physical evidence of abuse is if there was a prior incident in which the police answered a domestic violence call and found the scene to be consistent with her claims that you beat her. I don't know and I don't care."

    You don't care because looking into it will force you to see the truth about police policy of domestic violence calls.

    This Canadian Policy specifically calls men as the abusers and women as the victim. There is no initial assumption that ether could be the perpetrator, it is considered the male is abuser right from the call in. http://www.endingviolence.org/files/uploads/vawir_policy_2004.pdf

    This video describes a man who was hiding from his wife in the bathroom as she literally busted the door off the hinges. The wife wasn't taken away, but the husband was threatened that another call back would result in his arrest, leaving 2 children with an angry drunk of a mother.

    http://www.vimeo.com/1649038

    You can believe these are made up if you want, you likely will, but consider this...

    http://www.barbarakay.ca/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=486&Itemid=10

    That was a judge saying this on public record, do you really think police won't make the same assumptions in private?

    " I assume she shared your ideas about "proper" gender roles"

    Not victim blaming, are you?

    "Frankly, I don't see how feminism can be blamed for the actions of an avowed non-feminist,"

    because feminist propaganda about male perpetration and female victimhood, and the denial of the alternative, made it possible.

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  41. Kratch: I disagree with your interpretation of the physical vs. emotional damage debate. The deliberate exclusion of the emotional component of physical abuse had the effect of suggesting that emotional abuse is as bad, or worse, than physical abuse. This is the basis for the typical argument that physical abuse, no matter its magnitude, is merely an understandable response to emotional abuse. Unless the physical abuse is perpetrated by a woman, in which case that rule doesn't apply.

    You don't care because looking into it will force you to see the truth about police policy of domestic violence calls."

    I don't care because looking into it would require me to consider John Dias' ex-wife's account too. I am not going to assume this is how it actually went down just because he said so, or to assume she's a liar just because she's female.

    As for the link to the policy, I see nothing in it that would require the police officer on a domestic violence call to assume that the male is the abuser. Rather, the procedure for the arrest reads: "Police officers, when there are grounds to believe an offence has occurred, should always arrest when it is in the public interest as set out in s.495 of the Criminal Code[.]" So, reading this legally, there are two prerequisites for an arrest: (1) there must be objective grounds to believe that an offense has occurred; the officer's subjective belief is not enough; and (2) the arrest must be in the public policy interest, as that criterion is defined in the Criminal Code. I don't think your interpretation is consistent with the text of the guidelines.

    I don't have any reason to assume that the stories you mentioned are made up, but existing along side them are numerous stories of abused wives having no recourse, of courts awarding custody to abusive fathers, and women getting arrested for defensively raising their hands to their faces in anticipation of blows.

    "Not victim blaming, are you?"

    No. Rather, it's a reference to what John Dias has been saying elsewhere, about women's mandatory victim status in a "proper" patriarchal system, women's need of men as physical protectors and the fact that women not needing men to protect them from physical danger has the effect of marginalizing and disenfranchising men. Apparently, he has a view of an ideal society in which women are constantly in danger, so that men can fulfill their "proper" role of protectors and saviors. Apart from the obvious fact that having such a society would require fostering an environment that's unsafe for women, it promotes the stereotype of a woman as a victim-by-definition, in need of rescuing. He just found in this particular instance (to his chagrin, no doubt), his role was that of the villain, rather than the savior.

    "because feminist propaganda about male perpetration and female victimhood, and the denial of the alternative, made it possible."

    I don't believe there was ever any mainstream feminist "propaganda" to the effect that only men perpetrate violence and that women are always victims. Rather, what mainstream feminists fight against is the notion that women "belong" to their fathers, husbands and boyfriends, and that violence against them should therefore be legal. That was the law before feminism -- men were allowed to "chastise" their wives and children at their own discretion; and whereas husbands who found themselves abused had the option of subjecting their unruly wives to the ducking-stool or the mad house, women who were abused had no such options. In fact, what John Dias has proposed in another comment exchange is that the only recourse abused women should have is the hope that their victimizers would be punished by God somehow.

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  42. Physical abuse by its nature includes emotional abuse.

    So men are equal if not greater *emotional* abusers in mixed-sex abuse situations, because they're doling out double abuse at every physical abuse event.

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  43. Not all emotional abuse is the same. Some emotional abuse can be even more damaging then that included with physical abuse.

    that's like saying women physically abuse men too, and by many reports, at equal or greater rates to men, therefore men suffer equal physical abuse to women... I doubt that argument will fly.

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  46. Amused:

    It's not some patriarchal ideation of a utopian dream to point out that in all of history -- including now -- any standards that are expected to be obeyed by men must be enforced upon them by men. Therefore if someone claims that it's necessarily an injustice that women were not in the pinnacle of political power throughout history, such a person is ignoring that effective authority requires the competence to enforce the standards that you set. That's why laws and foreign policy require enforcement by male law enforcement and male military, because without males to enforce those standards, the enforcers would be rendered impotent. Do you actually think that if all males were replaced on police forces with women, somehow the laws would still be enforced just as effectively as with the males? Hardly. But if women on police forces and in military roles were completely replaced by males, the laws and the country's foreign policies would be just as effectively enforced if not more so. Enforcement of standards is required for authority to be effective, and that is a male-specific function. Therefore it's no injustice that there is historically a near perfect correlation between political authority and male authority figures.

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  47. @Amused:

    "In fact, what John Dias has proposed in another comment exchange is that the only recourse abused women should have is the hope that their victimizers would be punished by God somehow."

    That's a lie. If you go to that thread and actually do some reading, you'll see that I said that patriarchy doesn't necessarily require State authority, since there are enforcement mechanisms within the family clan to punish spouse abusers. What I wrote about God punishing people is that we're all under authority -- no one is exempt. This idea that injustices can be eliminated from the world if only we achieved the perfect political solution is common in feminist belief systems, because in the feminist mind there is no higher authority than political authority, and therefore male-headed political authority is somehow practiced with impunity. But as I pointed out in the thread in question, in the eternal scheme of things no injustice goes unaddressed. It would be a lie for someone to state that by this I am somehow "advocating" for injustice to be practiced during this life. The very fact that I am politically active attests to this, because I oppose injustice by government policy, and it's my goal to reign in such injustices.

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  48. "Therefore if someone claims that it's necessarily an injustice that women were not in the pinnacle of political power throughout history, such a person is ignoring that effective authority requires the competence to enforce the standards that you set."

    Feminism's complaint isn't that women were not in the pinnacle of political power -- but that women had NO political power and no civil rights, indeed, NO PERSONHOOD in patriarchal societies. Your idea that only men should enjoy access to courts and the political process is based on religious dogma -- and I simply do not accept it as a valid basis for deciding who gets to be a person, as opposed to chattel.

    "That's why laws and foreign policy require enforcement by male law enforcement and male military, because without males to enforce those standards, the enforcers would be rendered impotent. Do you actually think that if all males were replaced on police forces with women, somehow the laws would still be enforced just as effectively as with the males? Hardly. But if women on police forces and in military roles were completely replaced by males, the laws and the country's foreign policies would be just as effectively enforced if not more so. Enforcement of standards is required for authority to be effective, and that is a male-specific function. Therefore it's no injustice that there is historically a near perfect correlation between political authority and male authority figures."

    Actually, historically, the more patriarchal and oppressive a society is of women, the more politically unstable, violent and poor it is. And yes, that includes the ancient Greeks, who, despite them pesky women being confined to the bedroom, just could not get their shit together. Now, of course, we have a cause-and-effect problem here: it may very well be that poverty, political instability, and violent culture leads to patriarchy and oppression, rather than vice versa; but the correlation is definitely there.

    As for replacing men with women and women with men: I would like people to occupy professions on the basis of objective competence. I don't want people to be given authority for their gender. Nature (or God, if you prefer) gave women brains, intelligence to different degrees, different temperaments and personalities, and a desire for fulfillment that's just as strong as men's. To confine half of humanity to the kitchen, to deny people the opportunity to reach their full potential outside of a rigidly circumscribed role as a nurse and a maid, in fact to deny the humanity of half the human race, to deny that these people are even people is bigoted and deeply immoral. It's very convenient to assign the entitlement to authority to yourself on the ground that you have a penis: now you don't have to show actual competence.

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  49. "That's a lie. If you go to that thread and actually do some reading, you'll see that I said that patriarchy doesn't necessarily require State authority, since there are enforcement mechanisms within the family clan to punish spouse abusers."

    Those "enforcement mechanisms" are not transparent, not subject to public scrutiny -- and therefore, they are no "enforcement mechanisms" at all. Which explains why women were so violently abused for so long with those "enforcement mechanisms" in place. Tell me, is there ANY limit to an "enforcement mechanism" that you are describing? Should a man have the authority to KILL his wife, according to you -- with consequences subject only to the discretion of the "family"?

    "What I wrote about God punishing people is that we're all under authority -- no one is exempt. This idea that injustices can be eliminated from the world if only we achieved the perfect political solution is common in feminist belief systems, because in the feminist mind there is no higher authority than political authority, and therefore male-headed political authority is somehow practiced with impunity."

    Well, if injustices can't be eliminated, then you can just sit back and relax. Quit complaining about your ex-wife. Just realize some injustices can't be eliminated. Therefore why try.



    "But as I pointed out in the thread in question, in the eternal scheme of things no injustice goes unaddressed."

    As crazy as it may sound to you, potential victims of abuse care more about prevention than some nebulous eventual justice on some other plane of existence. In other words, people who live in the real world would like these injustices to be addressed before, you know, their skulls get fractured. Your believe in God, once again, furnishes no basis why brutalization of women should be legalized.

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  50. @Amused:

    "Your idea that only men should enjoy access to courts and the political process is based on religious dogma..."

    Isn't it the other way around? Your feminist views are based on atheistic dogma specifically, and this is an ideology that idealizes the power of the State. What I believe in is that if the State has any authority, it should be constrained solely to its legitimate but limited functions, by sensible people who don't want the government to intrude in private and personal matters.

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  51. @Amused:

    "Feminism's complaint isn't that women were not in the pinnacle of political power -- but that women had NO political power and no civil rights, indeed, NO PERSONHOOD in patriarchal societies."

    And yet such women are still exempt from ever being drafted for military service. Female perpetrators of domestic violence are still largely exempt from any accountability, with some 80 percent of arrestees for DV being males even though more than 30 years of published empirical evidence reveals that females perpetrate intimate partner violence against their male partners with at least equal frequency as their male partners. Unilateral violence between intimate partners is practiced by female perpetrators at a 70-30 ratio (Daniel Whitaker et. al., 2007), and yet only 20 percent of arrestees for DV are females (California Attorney General, 2004). Until women are not only willing -- but able -- to assume an identical share and an identical severity of all of the burdens that males are subjected to, to whatever degree they enjoy exemptions it is justified that they are politically subordinate.

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  53. @Amused:

    "Should a man have the authority to KILL his wife, according to you -- with consequences subject only to the discretion of the 'family'?"

    Why is this question relevant if the State didn't exist in the first place, for example, in an outlying area beyond State influence? And couldn't someone ask the same question about State-wielded authority, with the same accusing posture?

    Why must you necessarily conflate authority with violence against women? If you're not using your authority to fulfill your protective obligations, then the legitimacy of your authority is unstable. Authority requires both leverage and legitimacy, and wielding protective violence in the name of peace and order is an obligation that is essential to the demonstration of legitimacy.

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  54. @Amused:

    "As crazy as it may sound to you, potential victims of abuse care more about prevention than some nebulous eventual justice on some other plane of existence. In other words, people who live in the real world would like these injustices to be addressed before, you know, their skulls get fractured. Your believe in God, once again, furnishes no basis why brutalization of women should be legalized."

    So the proper exercise of authority is to protect the vulnerable, and the effective use of authority is to do this without favoritism (such as elevating female suffering as necessarily more important than male suffering, and female homicide victimization as necessarily more important than male homicide victimization, and female emotional fear of potential physical violence as necessarily more important than male physical pain of actual physical violence). Favoritism is what perpetuates injustices, and under feminist laws and jurisprudence male suffering and vulnerability are routinely overshadowed by female concerns.

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  55. @Amused:

    "Well, if injustices can't be eliminated, then you can just sit back and relax."

    Individually, we're all under the moral imperative to make the world a better place while we're in it. That includes preventing the abuse of authority, and that includes the abuse of State-wielded authority under feminist-inspired policies.

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  56. @Amused:

    "As for replacing men with women and women with men: I would like people to occupy professions on the basis of objective competence."

    So would I. But unfortunately feminist laws (nominally) rest on the fundamental assumption that men and women are equal not only in their basic intrinsic value but also in their competence. This gives feminists the pretext to portray any disparity between males and females as the product of systemic bias and/or discrimination, which they then use as fodder to call for ever more expansion of the State into private affairs. Objective competence is staring them right in the face every day, and yet they refuse to accept it; the sexual disparity in [whatever situation] somehow "must" be due to a male-benefiting advantage over females, and therefore men must be further disempowered from their supposed perch of advantage. In reality, feminist ideology is about privileging women above and at the expense of men, under the pretext that this is the pursuit of equality.

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