Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Nice guys...

It's interesting to me how widespread the use of Nice Guy to refer to a particular type of guy is. I have coworkers who use the phrase (with obligatory scare-quotes as they say it), and it's the sort of phrase that's come up on other websites I visit.

The Annals of Online Dating is focused on Nice Guys today, and a particular quote jumped out at me. On one guy's profile he's talking about what he wants in a woman:

She has to understand that men do the things they do and say the things they say becasue they are men and not becasue they are douchbags, meaning I believe in a monogamous relationship and I practice it, but I am a man.

I'm... not sure what that means.
Men do the things they do because they're men?
Well, alrighty then.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

On Monsters...

There's a piece up on Feministe about abuse; there are a lot of really moving comments from people who faced abuse and the sorts of emotional and mental consequences of that abuse.

One of the things that I sometimes struggle with--and I'm sure that I'm not alone--is the way that we tend to dehumanize the perpetrators of violence. It's something that I've noticed in the past, and I work not to do it anymore, but it still happens. There's a tendancy in conversations about abuse to start thinking of the perpetrators as monsters. In the thread on Feministe, the second comment is "Progressive political views mean nothing when one is a monster underneath."

It's a very well intentioned sentiment, I'm sure, and I agree with the message--just because someone has progressive politics doesn't mean that they're not tremendously regressive in other ways--there are plenty of very racist, sexist, transphobic, homophobic, or otherwise bigoted progressives.

The fact is, even the best of us are only human.

Equally important: even the worst of us are human.

There are some really horrible people out there--people who will take delight in harming other people. People who find some satisfaction in emotionally or physically abusing others. There are also people who are, as another commenter points out, "deeply disturbed individuals." Either way, the behaviors can certainly be monsterous, but I try very hard not to call the indviduals involved "monsters" themselves. Labeling someone a monster can be very comforting, in a way. It's a way for us to marginalize what they've done and put it into a box, but it erases how very human most so-called monsters really are. 

To some degree, labeling someone a monster implies that the burden of avoiding the abuse is on the abused. After all, if the person was a monster, why didn't the abused see that fact? Why did they get involved with a monster in the first place? This puts abuse survivors into a strange and difficult position. It can be very difficult to get out of an abuse situation, but it can be even harder when this notion exists that abusers are monsters and you don't think that the person hurting you is actually a monster. Even abusers have moments where they're charming or kind or gentle. Often it's part of the abuse cycle. Either way, calling the abusers monsters sends a message akin to "it should have been obvious. You shouldn't have stuck around."

Traditionally, monsters can't help being monsters--a vampire can't help the compulsion to drink blood, a werewolf can't help but change under the full moon, etc. By lumping abusers into the same category, I think that we risk the implication that the abuser was someone incapable of preventing the abuse. It removes the agency involved, in a way. Ultimately, if you abuse someone, you are responsible for that, and it's up to you to change that behavior, even if that means getting help.

In a way, this seems like arguing semantics, but I think that the results can be very real for people who are in abusive situations. It's already very hard for a lot of people to leave situations. Beyond the fear of the abuser, there are a lot of complicated feelings and fears that people have about how they will be viewed by their friends, families, and loved ones. There are people who won't believe that the abuser could have done the things that were done (which, I think, relates back to our idea that certain people are "monsters"; "how could anyone think that Pete would hit his partner? Pete isn't a monster!" Etc.), or who will look for things that the abused might have done "to cause the abuse." There's fear that people will look down on or pity the survivor for "letting the abuse happen." There are fears and feelings of betrayal at having lied to loved ones about the abuse.

Friday, May 11, 2012


I'm very out of practice writing, I've realized. I keep starting to write posts, and nothing comes out. There are numerous reasons for this, I'm sure. I don't read as many blogs as I used to, I don't have any interest in getting into shouting matches against particular people, I'm less interested in just tearing things apart and being snarky, and, you know... I don't write that much. It's hard to write when you've fallen out of the habit. So, this is just a bunch of short thoughts for the moment.

I was looking over some of the background stats on my space here. People come here from some pretty strange searches. Once you get rid of all the really gross results, though, it looks like most of my visitors are coming here from two basic searches--they're looking up information about red spots (and getting hits from my post about my psoriasis outbreak), or they're looking up variations of "castration harsh punishment." I still get a few visitors coming over from, but it's mostly red splotch or castration searches. I'm pretty sure I only wrote one post on either of those topics, but that's how people are finding the site. Part of me feels a little bad about that--it must be disappointing if you're looking for a lot of information about either of those things, and you come across this pretty quiet blog.

Oh, and in case anyone is wondering--the psoriasis is vastly improved. Not gone away, but significantly reduced. It's still worst on my legs and head (mostly behind my ears and on my scalp), but if I'm wearing pants, you probably wouldn't even notice it. Unless you were looking behind my ears for some reason, I suppose. It can still be embarassing--when I was flaking all over a black tux in a wedding, and the other groomsmen had to keep brushing me off, for example--and I still have moments where it's painful, but it's very much at a stage where I can live with it. Which is good, since I have to.

In other news, I, like a million other people, saw the Avengers over the weekend. I rather thoroughly enjoyed it. I thought it was a really fun origin story for the team. I know that Whedon's writing style isn't for everyone, but I thought it was quite fun. Lots of great humorous touches. I know a few people (friends of friends) who were very unhappy with it, though. In particular, they were upset with the depictions of Black Widow and the way that Loki threatened her. I was more disappointed not to see War Machine in it, since, with the exception of Fury, the Avengers are looking pretty white-washed. I would definitely like to see some more women on the team, too. Maybe next time we could get She-Hulk, Spider-Woman, Black Panther, Warbird, Captain Marvel (Monica Rambeau), etc. on board?

Anyway, that's what I've got for now. We'll see if I can't get back into writing, you know... substance.
Or at least something interesting