Masterbitch Theater: The Good Men Project?

Trigger warning for discussion about rapists and rape culture.

I don’t know what’s in the air this year, but confessional pieces from self proclaimed rapists – yes, people who are by definition and admission rapists – have been published an awful lot recently. There was the infamous “ask a rapist” thread on Reddit earlier this year and then the dozens of articles that followed in its wake. Over the past couple of weeks, The Good Men Project, has run not one, but two different articles from a sympathetic rapist point of view under the guise of broadening the discussion of rape culture to include rapists.  And then they had to run an editorial piece explaining their decision to do so for all us morally simplistic folk who were appalled that they would. How dare we not get their enlightened mission here? Don’t we know that rape is complicated? Don’t we want to hear the other side? It might help us understand things better.

There is validity in exploring why rapists rape, from their own perspective. Is it something that belongs in general public discourse? In unmediated, public spaces with no critical context? Should this be something best kept in the hands of researchers and psychologists? I don’t know a single adult woman in this day and age who isn’t aware that rapists aren’t just anonymous men who lurk in bushes and attack strangers, that they’re entirely more likely to be assaulted by someone they know, that the CDC says 1 in 5 women (and 1 in 71 men) reported being raped. Do we really need to hear that some “nice guy” “accidentally” discovers he’s a rapist because he thought it was ok to fuck a sleeping woman because she had been flirting with him earlier in the evening? Who is that helping? What discourse is it broadening?

The Good Men Project – which, despite its name, runs an awful lot of MRA apologia and has a comment section that can boil the blood – provided only the most lukewarm of introductions with their “I’d Rather Risk Rape Than Give Up Partying Article.” Is a couple of lines of, “hey, we don’t endorse this,” really the strongest defense for running an article that includes, “I’ve accepted a certain amount of rape as the cost of doing business, and so have most of the people I know”? Yes, that is a quote.

Would your opinion be affected if you knew the founder of the site sent out an email calling “cyber feminists” “vicious and cruel” for “attacking” the GMP for running these articles?

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[E] Slay Belle

Slay Belle is an editor and the new writer mentor here at Persephone Magazine, where she writes about pop culture, Buffy, and her extreme love of Lifetime movies. She is also the editor of powderroom.jezebel.com. You can follow her on Twitter, @SlayBelle or email her at slay@persephonemagazine.com. She is awfully fond of unicorns and zombies, and will usually respond to any conversational volley that includes those topics.

6 thoughts on “Masterbitch Theater: The Good Men Project?”

  1. The “1 in 71 men have been raped” stat from the CDC survey doesn’t tell the whole story. It defines “rape” as the attacker penetrating the victim, which excludes women who use their vagina to rape a man (rape by envelopment) which is counted as “made to penetrate”. The very same survey says “1 in 21 men (4.8%) reported that they were made to penetrate someone else,” which is far more than 1 in 71. Also, the study says that 79.2% of male victims of “made to penetrate” reported only female perpetrators, meaning they were raped by a woman.

    The above, lifetime stats do show a lower percentage of male victims (up to 1.4% rape by penetration + 4.8% made to penetrate = 6.2%) than female victims (18.3%) although it is far more than the 1 in 71 you stated. However, if you look at the report’s stats for the past 12 months, just as many number of men were “forced to penetrate” as women were raped, meaning that if you properly include “made to penetrate” in the definition of rape, men were raped as often as women.

  2. I had such high hopes for GMP when it started. I mean, how awesome it all sounded! A blog! For men! That accepted feminists!

    I supposed my question is this: is there a way to start a blog from someone not on the receiving in of white heteronormative bullshit that somehow doesn’t manage to perpetuate that bullshit? I sometimes wonder if that’s possible.

    And maybe the problem that GMP had all along was a lack of intersectionality. We’re okay with ladies having brains, they said. We want men to respect women, they said. But they didn’t bother to think of the WIDE range of experiences of how women and men work together. And it ended up just being about the menz being menz.

    1. I remember, too. I’ve been hearing these things recently about the GMP and I was a bit astonished. It didn’t sound at all like the things that I first heard and saw about it.

      As for whether it’s possible for someone not on that receiving end, I’m thinking yes and no. The thing is, you can be a good ally, but part of being a good ally means knowing when to sit down, shut up, and let the people you’re trying to be an ally to have their say. If you DON’T listen, if you’re not making yourself aware of the wide varieties of feelings found in the people you’re trying to be an ally to, really if you just become your own goddamn sounding board…then you’re not being a good ally.

      I think there’s a whole lot of truth in the “my feminism must be intersectional or it will be bullshit!” statement. Having just one voice, just one perspective, isn’t going to cut it.

      BUT…you can still try to be a good ally. You can still talk about the issues, discuss them, try to understand the best ways to talk about them that still support others the way you want to, etc. In fact, I think it’s essential, even if you AREN’T on the receiving end of one of the parts of the kyriarchy. It’s tied with the whole “why must ‘women’s issues’ be ‘women’s work’?” sort of idea.

      Maybe, part of the issue is that, as an ally, you have to understand that you’re not the end-all-be-all authority. Just because you THINK something is okay, that it doesn’t entrench your privilege, doesn’t mean it actually IS okay.

      When you become your own sounding board, when you forget about intersectionality, when you don’t recognize when it’s a good time to sit down and shut up…you, as an ally, fail to act like an ally. And I think that’s part of what’s happening with the GMP.

      1. I wonder, however – if sites like GMP aren’t a good way to have men get introduced into the world of women’s issues. I think there’s validity in having a site for men that talks about women’s and men’s issues. Yes, it might not be fully intersectional, yes it might skew hetero-normative and whatnot, but the type of site GMP is can draw people.

        I guess it’s a question of what you think their responsibility is. Do you think it’s to talk about women’s issues in a manner that is man-to-man? Or do you think it’s to ensure their inclusiveness?

        I think right now, getting more men aware of the stuff GMP is talking about is valid in and of itself. Tearing it down for not being as inclusive as maybe it should be does shut down an avenue for men to talk about things like depression, male culture and how it affects them, etc. I think the site does some good even if I don’t agree with all its choices, and I think they are making strides to men about important issues.

  3. Okay. While they’re at it, maybe they should publish some sympathetic articles from white supremacists and/or neo-Nazis. How bout from some of those white folks who shot their black neighbors during Hurricane Katrina, the ones that still haven’t been punished for it? Cause it’s “complicated.”

    Right.

    Our whole entire society is chock full of rape culture. If you’re trying to counterbalance something, why not counterbalance THAT? We don’t need to hear yet more stories about why so-and-so committed rape. We hear them all the goddamn time. If you publish those things from a sympathetic eye, under the guise of showing other “perspectives,” not only are you parroting the negative parts of mainstream culture, but you’re also acting like the behavior itself is sympathetic. Or, that we SHOULD be sympathetic to it.

    Nevermind the fact that most of rapists are repeat rapists. If they say they “accidentally” raped someone, but then do the exact same thing again, can we really say it was an accident?

    I have no sympathy.

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