Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Gate D

Antonia has it exactly right. Bob Hebert "gets it" and he drives home a nail with a jackhammer.
If there was ever a story that deserved more coverage by the news media, it’s the dark persistence of misogyny in America. Sexism in its myriad destructive forms permeates nearly every aspect of American life. For many men, it’s the true national pastime, much bigger than baseball or football.

Little attention is being paid to the toll that misogyny takes on society in general, and women and girls in particular.

Its forms are limitless. Hard-core pornography is a multibillion-dollar business, having spread far beyond the stereotyped raincoat crowd to anyone with a laptop and a password. Crowds of crazed photographers risk life and limb to get shots of Paris Hilton or Britney Spears without their underwear. At New York Jets home games, men regularly gather at Gate D to urge female fans to expose themselves.

That got me. As much as I have seen in this world, including the horrors of an entire society of women raped by the armies of warlords who considered brutalizing and dehumanizing women as a right of military victory, I did not know about the New York Jets, Gate D thing at the Meadowlands.

If you went to the link you should be suffering from a moment of shock. That was a lynch mob of men demanding their moment of sexual titillation from any woman who happened to pass through their gauntlet.

Back to Bob Hebert for a moment.

A grotesque exercise in the dehumanization of women is carried out routinely at Sheri’s Ranch, a legal brothel about an hour’s ride outside of Vegas. There the women have to respond like Pavlov’s dog to an electronic bell that might ring at any hour of the day or night. At the sound of the bell, the prostitutes have five minutes to get to an assembly area where they line up, virtually naked, and submit to a humiliating inspection by any prospective customer who has happened to drop by.
It's here where Antonia and I disagree, if even only marginally. Antonia:

I feel women, if properly paid and protected, should be allowed to exploit their sexual power over men -- often the only power they have -- for economic gain. It's mutually consensual. It should be decriminalized.
Me: If it's completely and absolutely voluntary. It strikes me, and if I'm wrong please do correct me, that women working in the environment of a brothel would prefer to be doing something else.

The problem is, as Antonia says, is that their their sexuality is often the only power they have. Why is that acceptable? Why are women the ones reduced to that level? Has there ever been a party of women at Gate D at the Meadowlands where they make demands on unknown men as though they are only there to provide some sexually stimulating entertainment?

Is there such a thing as Boys Gone Wild? Do women stalk the beaches of Cabo San Lucas looking for drunken lads to sell in a boxed-set of DVDs?

I think Bob Hebert has it all right.

We’ve become so used to the disrespectful, degrading, contemptuous and even violent treatment of women that we hardly notice it. Staggering amounts of violence are unleashed against women and girls every day. Fashionable ads in mainstream publications play off of that violence, exploiting themes of death and dismemberment, female submissiveness and child pornography.
In fact, I'll go one further.

Too many males have interpreted feminism to mean that women will buy into the inability of some men to control their behaviour. That they, the men, set the equality agenda.

To put it in short form: I'm a proud pig. My answer to your demand for equality is that you have to indulge my porcine qualities and become a pig too. Get down, Baby! (Notice... the direction is not UP!)

That's not equality and it certainly isn't feminism.

Feminism, in all its complexities, is not getting down. Equality does not involve women accepting an agenda which women do not find comfortable. It involves respect, and if it isn't completely and totally mutual it means nothing. It involves exploiting the human strengths of both sexes and that means that men need to accept that women have human strengths that exceed their sexuality, the one thing on which men keep focusing as the the singularly exclusive power which women possess.

What a lot of men don't seem to be able to fathom is that the movement is not down, but up. Women don't have to change; men do.

Women have nothing to give up! They're crawling out of a hole and demanding the right to stand on the same field that has been occupied by men for who-knows-how-long.

What do men fear from all of this?

A loss of sex? Not likely. I have it on very good authority that all women have an "inner slut". That would suggest, unless I am singularly misinformed, that a male who truly believes in total equality has little to fear.

No. It's a loss of authority. The right to set the agenda. Even when feminists are demanding equality men demand the right to set their agenda.

That's why Bob Hebert is right.

True equality can never be achieved unless men back away. Misogyny will never be eliminated until men accept women as powerful equals with all the same opportunities they have never been quite able to achieve in the quantitative numbers that represent their sex.

As a friend once said to me, oppressing half the human race is what you might call "unsustainable".

Indeed. And asking women we don't even know to show us their tits means men are the problem.

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