Power differentials can make consent difficult to obtain

Content Note:
Discussion of sexual assault, sexual harassment



One thing I’ve seen in discussions about rape and sexual assault over the years is that many men have a poor or nonexistent understanding of power differentials (though men aren’t the only ones who have this problem, I’m speaking here to guys bc we are the people responsible for the majority of sexual assaults). To be sure, there are men who feign a lack of understanding, but actually

Image on white background. Lists essential elements necessary consent, stating: Consent is: 1-active. 2- based on equal power. 3- a choice. 4- a process.
A quick guide to understanding consent.

know damn well what power differentials are. I’m not speaking to that group in this post (other than to say that you’re predatory assholes).

For those trying to wrap their mind around the concept of a power differential for the first time, I invite you to think of your current occupation and/or any classes you may be taking. Think about who your boss (manager or owner). Think about your instructors.  If you *are* the boss or instructor, think about the employees you have or the students in your care.

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Power differentials can make consent difficult to obtain

I believe you

Content Note:

Discussion of sexual harassment and sexual assault, mention of victim blaming

Having a good sense of hearing is, generally speaking, a useful tool for people working in the service industry. It certainly is for me as a bartender. In my 17 years pouring drinks, I can’t recall how many times it has come in handy. Often, I’ll be in the process of helping one group of people decide what they want to drink when another group sits down at the bar. While making the drinks for group one, it is not unusual for me to overhear what group two is deciding to drink and, if they settle upon something, for me to make their drinks and greet them with their cocktails (or beer/wine as the case may be). Many a guest has remarked at how impressed they are that I can hear conversations in a bar with loud patrons and/or music.  Sometimes that hearing can lead to awkward moments, like the times I’ve happened to hear people discussing sexual activities. Other times, it can lead to commiserations, such as a recent chat three people were having about the challenges they faced with caring for an elderly family member and the additional difficulties of that family member having dementia.

(Before I go any further, I want to make one thing clear: I am not in any way trying to eavesdrop on guests. Between my hearing and the relatively small size of my bar, (comfortably seats 12 people) it’s hard NOT to hear what people are saying, unless they are speaking softly (which isn’t something most patrons at a bar tend to do; certainly not these two guys) ).

Then there are the decidedly unfun, so-frustrating-I-want-to-pull-my hair-out conversations that I’d be happy to never hear again.

Like the one I heard yesterday between two guys. They were complaining about the #MeToo hashtag and the ever growing list of men who have been publicly accused of sexual harassment and/or sexual assault. Sadly, like many men (and more than a handful of women and non-men), these guys had doubts about the allegations. One of them brought up the fact that many of the victims waited decades before speaking up about their assault. I was supposed to be ringing in the food order for another guest, but as I stood at the computer, all I could do was shake my head in frustration. Frustration bc those two guys sounded like countless other men online or in meatspace who leap to defend the accused (that frustration was made worse bc I wanted to speak up, but A: I was also tending to other guests, B: the two guys did not seem reasonable on this subject, C: I would have had to spend time I didn’t have engaging the two louts to effectively counter their bullshit, and D: even if I did have time, I would have to figure out–on the fly–the most polite way to express myself so as to ensure I still got tipped, since I do go to work to get paid). They sounded like many Rape Culture apologists. The ones who say  things like:

“They’re in it for the money.”
“They’re doing it for the attention.”
“It wasn’t sexual assault. It was regret sex.”
“it’s a conspiracy to bring down powerful men.”
“whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty?”
“If they really were assaulted or harassed, they would have gone to the police right after it happened.”

Check out the comments on any article about sexual harassment or sexual assault. Whether it’s a local newspaper or a nationally renowned publication, you are almost guaranteed to find comments of a similar nature. They betray a great deal of ignorance (and demonstrate a lack of compassion) on the part of the speaker and they send a message to victims and assailants alike:  sexual harassment and sexual assault should be treated with immediate skepticism and doubt. The thing is, these are the only crimes in which the default position is one of doubt. For other crimes, victims are believed and their claims treated as truthful (until and unless evidence is discovered that disputes their claims). That is fucked up and absolutely should not be the case. In my opinion,

believing victims should be the default

Continue reading “I believe you”

I believe you

Some people are just looking for something to be offended about

Once upon a time, in a land across the country, there existed a woman. This woman was mother to a 10-month-old. One day, the two of them set out on a journey to the house of the mouse in Anaheim, California. While they were there, her child became hungry, and the woman found herself facing a critical decision: “do I feed my child like any loving parent would, regardless of when and where” or “do I say screw it kid. You can starve” ? In short time, she made her decision and boy was it shocking: she chose to breastfeed her 10-month-old. Right then and there,

In public.

 Around people.

Given the whining from the two women onlookers, this image seems especially appropriate.
“Oh the horror!”


Continue reading “Some people are just looking for something to be offended about”

Some people are just looking for something to be offended about

Guys, all women deserve to be treated with respect and decency.

There’s something rotten in the world.

Something that is responsible for everything from one on one fisticuffs up to and including global conflict.

Something that is responsible for atrocities in every city, every town, every country the world over.

Something whose toxicity has inflicted innumerable examples of physical, emotional, psychological, and sexual abuse upon roughly half the population of the planet

Yeah, us.

Continue reading “Guys, all women deserve to be treated with respect and decency.”

Guys, all women deserve to be treated with respect and decency.

This is Rape Culture: Exhibit A

You know how sometimes you’ll read a story and think “there’s no way this could get any worse”, and you quickly find out how wrong you are? I’m talking about stories like the Jerry Sandusky rape case, the near five-dozen allegations of sexual assault and/or sexual harassment against Bill the rapist Cosby, or the deluge of shit that continues to spew forth from the Brock Turner rape case.

Continue reading “This is Rape Culture: Exhibit A”

This is Rape Culture: Exhibit A

Guys need feminism too

(Content Note: gendered and racial slurs, homophobia, othering)

If you’re a guy reading this, take a moment to think about the expectations society has placed upon you throughout your life. These expectations may not be the same for every individual, but as a whole there are general social rules associated with being a man and men as a whole are expected to follow them. These rules dictate appropriate activities, occupations, jobs, skills, hobbies, and interests for men. As a kid, you’re expected to like blue, not pink, to play with toys labeled “for boys” rather than those labeled “for girls”, and to express an interest in sports. You’re taught to be tough and endure pain, to be resilient and protective of girls. And of course it’s drilled into youngsters that Boys. Don’t. Cry. Boys can be emotive. They can be happy. They can be angry. They can be sad. But by god, don’t you cry!

You get older, and people look at you and treat you automatically as heterosexual (hell, that starts when you’re young-sometimes when you’re a newborn) and act as if you’re supposed to think about girls and sex all the time. You’re to continue being a tough guy, whether by playing sports in high school or working out or both. In adulthood, you’re supposed to go to college, graduate, and make something of yourself so that you can settle down with a woman, raise a family, and be a provider. Which means you’re expected to have a career that pays well (think more doctor or judge, less painter or photographer) And you’re supposed to want to get married bc marriage is the natural path all men are supposed to follow. Oh, and you’ve gotta have kids (and boys, specifically).

If you don’t want to do any of those things, if your predilections run counter to the acceptable social norms for men, or if you deviate from the rigid rules of masculinity, you will quickly be criticized. Your membership in the Man Tribe will be threatened bc those rules are there for a reason, by golly. They are there to tell you how you are supposed to behave and live your life (never mind that you were never consulted on these rules that are to govern your life). If you think you can just show emotion like crying without facing the social consequences, you quickly find out how wrong you are when people call you a girl. If your sexuality isn’t part of the dominant (read: acceptable) group-heterosexuals-your manhood will be called into question by calling you a ‘faggot’ (a slur intended to emasculate a man and make him feel less like a man and more like a woman). Don’t like sports or cars? You’re a pansy and there’s something wrong with you. Do you refuse to eat meat? Turn in your man card. Do you enjoy wearing clothes that are comfortable, regardless of the gender they were created for? You’re a sissy. Don’t go around fucking every woman you can? Want to have long rather than short hair? Don’t like fighting? Oh man, you’re the biggest pussy on the planet. Social opprobrium will almost always be brought to bear against you if you think about trying to exist as a male without conforming to societal expectations of masculinity.

And I have a problem with that.

I have a problem with that because when society dictates how masculinity is defined and what traits, skills, and characteristics define a man, then those that do not conform are ostracized. They are made to suffer. They are often discriminated against. They are prevented from maximizing their potential, bc they are told that there are limits on how they can exist. Think about gay and bisexual teenage boys who come out to their families hoping for love and acceptance and instead get condemnation, rejection, and, all too often, eviction. Think about the young boy who wants to be a fashion designer only to be told that fashion is a girly endeavor. Just picked the image of a young boy who’s dreams have been crushed. Consider the 13-year-old boy with long hair who is interested in poetry, dislikes sports, isn’t aggressive, and shows little to no interest in girls and is bullied so much that he attempts suicide. Recall the mid-30s guy in your office who is not married, has no kids, and is still a virgin. Remember all the times he’s been the butt of jokes, and been treated like utter shit bc he’s following a different script on how to exist as a man. At every turn in our society when men do not perform masculinity in the approved manner, they are vilified for it. They are told to toe the line. To “act like a man”. To “man up”.

Manhood and masculinity should not be tied to any particular set of activities or specific behaviors, skills, occupations, or hobbies. What it means to be masculine and what it means to be a man should not be determined by society. If you identify as a man, you should be the one who gets to decide what it means for you to be a man. If you’re looking for an ideology that seeks to dismantle gender roles, look no further than feminism.

Continue reading “Guys need feminism too”

Guys need feminism too

The $20 bill is not the only US note receiving an overhaul


She was a passionate suffragist.

She created a nursing home for African-Americans.

At one point, the reward for her capture reached $40,000.

She earned $20/month in pension following the end of the Civil War.

She was often behind enemy lines, operating as a scout for the Union.

She is credited with aiding in the liberation of over 3,000 enslaved Africans.

She was an ardent anti-slavery advocate who dedicated her life to the abolition of the “peculiar institution”.

And she’ll be the first woman to be featured on a United States banknote in more than a century.

If you guessed Harriet Tubman, then you win $20!

Come with me if you want to live (should have been her motto)

Continue reading “The $20 bill is not the only US note receiving an overhaul”

The $20 bill is not the only US note receiving an overhaul

Just how fragile is masculinity?

When you lie on the beach

‘neath the warm summer sky,

do you only wear sunscreen

that’s made for a guy?

When the smell of your home

is like a rancid trash can,

will the scented candles you buy

be made just for a man?


When you finish your meal

and you’re craving sweet food,

will you only eat chocolate

that’s made for a dude?



When cleaning your ears

do you without fail,

refuse to buy Q-tips

not made for a male?



When the drip from your nose

never seems spent,

will you only buy tissue

made for a gent?



When playing a game

(no, this isn’t a joke),

do you fret and you whine

cuz you can’t play a bloke?


If you answered yes to any of the above rhyming questions (of my creation), then congrats, your masculinity may be fragile. The above Tweets are part of the #MasculinitySoFragile hashtag, which originated as a way for feminists and their allies to mock and criticize the toxic attitudes and beliefs our society associates with masculinity. From beliefs about the type of alcoholic beverages a “real man” drinks, to the type of careers men are supposed to lean towards, to the perception that displays of affection between men are “unmanly”, to discriminatory and marginalizing views about LGBT people, #MasculinitySoFragile is part of an ongoing effort to criticize rigid and ultimately destructive ideas of how masculinity is defined. To the surprise of few, the hashtag evoked outrage from men who crawled out of the woodwork to complain that it was an attack on men in general, rather than a criticism of toxic masculinity. Amusingly, many of those who claimed the hashtag was demeaning towards men proved through their responses that masculinity really is a fragile concept. The frailty of masculinity was demonstrated once again in the responses to a recent mockumentary-No Men Beyond This Point

Continue reading “Just how fragile is masculinity?”

Just how fragile is masculinity?

Monday’s Maddening Meme 4.4.16

(Yes, I know it is Tuesday, but I was indisposed much of yesterday and unable to finish this post)

Men are simple creatures with few needs, wants, and desires. It shouldn’t be hard for a woman to make a man happy.

Women, on the other hand are complex creatures who have a plethora of needs, wants, and desires. It is hard to make a woman happy because keeping track of everything they want, need, or desire is incredibly time-consuming.

Men- Simple. Easy to deal with.

Women- Complicated. Endlessly needy.

That’s what I’m getting from the above meme, which I stumbled across on Facebook. It reminds me of the 1992 book Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus by author and relationship counselor John Gray. In the book, Gray postulates that there are fundamental psychological differences between the sexes; differences so grand that men and women need instructions on how to understand and communicate with one another (apparently, those in the relationship should have an honest conversation about what they need and want is not sufficient advice; either that or it would be a one page book). And it just so happens that Gray has instructions. You just have to read his book, and you’ll find out all the secrets of the universe. Of course you also have BUY the book, so don’t think this guidance comes free of charge. Just be aware that the advice offered treats men and women as if they’re little more than walking stereotypes and erases the individuality of humanity. Needless to say, the book has faced quite a bit of criticism:

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Monday’s Maddening Meme 4.4.16

This is a lotta creepy

(image of Buffy’s first encounter with the Buffybot from Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 5, episode 18, ‘Intervention’)

Fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer may remember the Buffybot from ‘Intervention’ (B:TvS S5E18). The lifelike robotic creation of the misogynist Warren, the Buffybot was created for Spike because he…I wouldn’t say he loved Buffy (though he thought he did at the time)…perhaps ‘infatuated’ is the right term? ‘Lusted’, even.  That’s probably more accurate, because for Spike, the Buffybot was a fuck machine. And that’s one big reason the robot was creepy to me. The idea of a man creating a robotic facsimile of a woman he desires takes objectification to a new level. From street harassment to sexual assault to sex trafficking, women around the world are accustomed to men viewing them as objects. Not as human beings, but as objects to be bought. Objects to be sold. Objects to be traded. Objects to own. But at least building an artificial creation that resembles an actual living human woman is something that only exists in fiction, right? Not any longer.

Continue reading “This is a lotta creepy”

This is a lotta creepy