Gentlemen, Please.

Today, two of my favorite guys–Kleinheider and Heaton–are in grave need of a good feminist smackdown.  Gentlemen, I’m sorry that it’s come to this, but folks read you and respect you, and thus, leaving your ridiculousness unchallenged just can’t happen.


Let’s start with Heaton.  Heaton’s up in arms because of the Dateline ratings juggernaut of “To Catch a Predator.”  He makes some fine points, but if Heaton hasn’t crossed the line into “blame the victim,” he sure is scooting his toes as close to the line as he can.  Check this:

If you were to ask any Hollywood costume designer to present the look of a streetwalker for a film, they could find all of the clothes they needed on the bodies of young girls in any mall in the U.S. And what is the role of streetwalker apparel if not for advertising? Yet the vast majority of these girls would be astonished at the suggestion they were advertising, and that’s not their fault. Our culture flaunts the “come hither” look for young women, and this, like it or not, feeds the fantasy of the sexual predator.

We’re going to set aside for the moment that many of the men on the Dateline shows think they’re meeting young boys and that they girls they think they’re meeting look very ordinary in the photos the men are shown and stick just to this paragraph for a minute, so that we can call bullshit where bullshit needs to be called.    First, bullshit on the “good girl”/whore dichotomy.  And bullshit on the notion that girls who dress like whores are no “better” than whores.  Whores are not the worst kind of women you can be.  No, it’s not a job most women aspire to, but it’s not evil.  And it’s degrading to all women to continue to use our actual or perceived level of sexual activity to indicate our worth to society.  Second, bullshit on the idea that if a girl dresses in a manner that makes her feel sexy and attractive, she’s advertising that she’s available for sex.  Young girls dress in sexy clothes because they’re trying out feeling sexy and powerful in their sexuality. 

And third, and most important, bullshit on the idea that it’s our responsibility to control your behavior.  Women are not responsible for how men act.  You are responsible for you and we are responsible for us.  If your self-control has not progressed past the back seat of the car fights you had with your brother when you were six–“But he made me hit him!”  “But she made me fuck her!”–then you should not be out in society.  If a grown-ass man can’t see a 14 year old girl as anything other than a potential fuck, that’s his fault, not the girl’s.

Incredibly, towards the top of his post, Heaton says

This idea was birthed in local news, which I wrote long ago is the metaphorical Lizard on America’s Shoulder, relentlessly shrieking in our ear that everything is life-threatening and that we must always be afraid. Hidden in this message is the notion that we can somehow “manage” our way to success and happiness if we’re better informed, an idea that many learn too late is only a myth.

Yes, America, Heaton knows and states clearly that we cannot “manage” our way to success and happiness if we’re better informed and then he turns right around and says that these young girls have these problems with sexual predators because many of them don’t have fathers or don’t realize how the way that they’re dressing provokes men AND THEN he advocates that we’d benefit from learning why sexual predators do what they do. In other words, he’s advocating for the idea that we could be more successful and happier in our attempts to avoid sexual predators if only we were better informed.

Heaton!  Your post contains the very tools by which it can be dismantled!


Kleinheider, I’m not sure where to even start with you.  I guess with this post, in which you argue that women get paid less than men for a lot of complex reasons.  Fine and true.  Then, you try to lure me into complacency with your ideas about single moms.  But then you do a dumb-ass thing.  You conflate motherhood and parenthood–“True, this is a “choice” in that they could just emotionally abandon their children and fight their way up up the corporate ladder taking jobs that require long hours and travel. But for a committed parent, it is a very simple one.”  I noticed it earlier that you were talking about “men” vs. women who care for their kids/women who don’t.*  But here, you’re just out with it–committed parents don’t fight their way up the corporate ladder taking jobs that require long hours and travel; thus committed parents=committed mothers.  Are not men parents? 

Surely they’re more than hardworking wallets, whose only job is providing for the parent who is committed to the children–the mother**.

Next, your abortion post.  Kudos for finding someone who’s honest about the fact that, for most people, the anti-abortion stance is about making sure that sluts are properly punished for having sex.

But here’s my question for you, Beloved Kleinheider: if you believe abortion is murder, isn’t the South Dakota ban the only way to go?  If abortion is murder, there can be no rape exceptions, no incest exceptions, because a woman, regardless of her reasons, has hired a hitman to kill her child.  If children are really being killed, how can you wait to win the hearts and minds of the American people little by little? 

So (and here’s my actual question), how can you, as a person who believes that abortion is murder, not be disgusted by Bandow’s comments?  He’s saying “Babies are the proper punishment for sex.  I’m against abortion, because it’s not right that women can get away with having sex without having babies.  We must force them to have babies because we must force them to accept the consequences of their actions.”  Babies as punishment for sex.  He doesn’t see that fetus as a person; he sees it at a sentence to be carried out.  Isn’t that diametrically opposed to your worldview?  How do you anti-choicers reconcile those two opposing philosophies?


Whew.  That’s all the feminist smack-downing I can handle for one day.  Now, I must be off to contemplate dinner.



*You Germans and your crazy binaries that aren’t quite binaries.  Sein and Da-sein vs. non-existence, for instance.

**Really, it’s when I see that you guys carry around this type of garbage that is no good for you, that hurts you as men, that I’m most sorry that you think feminism is some kind of joke you should laugh at.

18 thoughts on “Gentlemen, Please.

  1. I call bullshit on your whole "slutty-girl clothing" rant, based on this:"Young girls dress in sexy clothes because they’re trying out feeling sexy and powerful in their sexuality." How can you, in one breath, state that these girls have power, indeed are POWERFUL, AND say that they have no power, no responsibility for the use or effect of that power?

  2. Exador, first, I said that they’re trying out their feelings of power. One can try out feeling powerful without actually being powerful. That’s kind of the point of adolescence–it’s space and time to figure out how you want to be in the world. You try things out without having to take full responsibility for them.Second, there’s a way that you right-wingers use the word "responsibility" that really makes me nervous. I mean, you and I can talk for a long time in really interesting ways about whether someone can be powerful and yet have no power. I’m with you up until that comma.But we’re talking about young girls dressing like "sluts," whatever that means, and I’m not clear on what you mean by "responsibility for the use of or effect of that power."Are you saying that, if a girl provokes a reaction from a guy, she’s responsible for his behavior? I don’t buy that.And it seems to me that sometimes you guys mean by "responsibility" that, if something bad happens to her because she was dressed "like a slut" and some guy felt provoked by that, she deserves what happens to her–that she has to take responsibility for her self-presentation and the response it provokes in others.I’ve got to call bullshit on that. A girl is responsible for her self-presentation. For her own safety, she ought to consider the response men might have to her dress, but, in the end, she cannot control those responses. We just don’t have that kind of power. We cannot be responsible for your actions.

  3. When I was learning to drive and someone did something stupid which I reacted badly to, I’d tell my dad in the passenger seat "That wreck wouldn’t have been my fault." His response? "We’ll put that on your gravestone."The point? Control, fault… whatever. It’s irrelevant. Do you really think that dressing that way doesn’t increase the chances of something bad happening to a woman/girl?

  4. W has a great point. Throughout the millenia, it was generally believed that "respectable" women did not go unchaperoned. This evolved into "good girls don’t go to places like that with boys".It was one of those bits of wisdom that were more practical than idealogical. Granted, it would have been more accurate to say "Girls shouldn’t go to places like that with boys because boys can be jerks", but maybe it was easier to influence the girls than the boys. Dressing "slutty" is an offshoot of this same theory.Than we had feminism come along and say, "It’s my right to go where ever the hell I please, and if you try anything you’ll be locked up."which generally works pretty well, but it ain’t exactly a guarantee of safety.Smart women realize the evil realities of life. Idealogical zealots would rather curse the darkness.Better to have a gun in the hand, than a cop on the phone.

  5. W., here’s the problem. Y’all are conflating two separate issues because one seems surmountable and the other one doesn’t. How girls dress and how men respond to how girls dress are two separate, but related issues. However, they aren’t the same thing.It seems entirely reasonable on the surface to suggest that, if only girls would dress more modestly, they would have fewer problems with men. On the surface, that seems utterly logical. But what is "dressing that way"? What way would we dress that would not remind assholes that we’re women?You’ve met me. I don’t dress incredibly provocatively. I don’t wear a lot of make-up. I don’t spend hours doing my hair. On weekends, you’ll find me wearing overalls and a t-shirt. And married men can’t keep their hands off me. How should I dress to stop that? And why should I have to dress any way to stop that? And, let’s be honest, no matter how I dressed, married men would still try to put their tongues in my mouth, because putting your tongue in my mouth seems like good fun–and it is.But do you see what I’m saying? "Stop dressing that way and you won’t have problems." is a false solution, because we can’t control what you do. Back when we covered ourselves from head to toe in cloth, a flash of ankle could supposedly undo you all. All "don’t dress that way" does is feed into the false belief that men who attack women do so for logical reasons and, if only women could figure out those reasons and anticipate them, they would not be attacked.Not only is this false, what we’re saying, if we accept that, is that all women must just live in a world run by the logic of abuse–men do what they want for whatever reasons they want and women run around trying to anticipate the safest course of action that will cause them the least amount of trouble.And, again, it means accepting that men are just monsters who cannot help themselves. This is so clearly bullshit that it breaks my heart that you cannot see it. You guys don’t rape people. You guys live in a world where little girls dress like "whores" and you don’t find one on the internet and get directions to her house and show up with beer and condoms. I know you guys, some better than others, and I know that you go to great lengths to make the people around you feel safe and good.Why, then, do you accept and interalize this idea that guys are just assholes and girls who don’t want to get hurt by assholes should sequester themselves from the world?You are not like that.You ought to be gravely insulted that our cultural narrative is that you are. But instead, you just act like that’s just how things are and there’s nothing you can do to change it; you act like your goodness is not enough of a counterweight againt the inherent jackass-y-ness of man.Well, I call bullshit on that.And, Exador, again. That’s your solution? That, if we want to be safe, we have to live like prisoners? How is that easier than you all demanding that the assholes among you stop hurting women?Why do I have to curtail my behavior because a few of you can’t control yourselves?And, too, bullshit on your binaries. A woman can live in the world as it is, and take reasonable steps to be safe, and still work for change and hope that you all will pull your heads out of your butts and realize your own worth as people and start acting like you deserve to be here.And, last, bullshit on your notion that it’s easier to control women. If it’s always been easy to control us until feminism came along and ruined everything, you all would not have needed the legal right to beat the shit out of us. And yet, in most cultures, until very recently, y’all have had that right. Maybe we liberals are misguided in our belief that we can work towards a better world, but you conservatives and your attachment to a past that wasn’t as wonderful as you remember it is just as misguided. (…calling me a zealot… grr…)

  6. I call bullshit on everybody calling bullshit on everybody else’s bullshit calling. Further, I call bullshit on calling bullshit bullshit. I call bullshit! Yes indeedy, I call bullshit. Bullshit bullshit bullshit.

  7. "Why do I have to curtail my behavior because a few of you can’t control yourselves?"To quote W’s father, We’ll put that on your tombstone.

  8. Dude, come on! For real? I should just suck it up and start living some kind of cloistered life because if I don’t, I might DIE!!!Do you write Lifetime Movies in your spare time or what?God damn, you crack me up.

  9. I think you’re sending a mixed message there. First you talk about how married men can’t keep their hands and tongues off of you, then you want to know why we internalize the idea that men are just assholes. Several of your own posts go in that very direction.I don’t accept and interanlize that guys are just assholes. I accept and internalize that SOME guys are just assholes. I just don’t consider myself one of those guys.<i>I know that you go to great lengths to make the people around you feel safe and good.</i>Then why do you insist on applying statements made about a minority to the group as a whole? It’s your standard debate tactic. Take something someone says and then overapply it so as to make it sound ludicrous. We’re talking about a subset of males that have no problem having sex with a 14 year old. Not the entire male gender. It’s not an apples vs oranges comparison, but it is a red apples vs green apples comparison. I do admit, I wonder how much larger the group of guys that is willing to have sex with a 14 year old would become if it wasn’t prosecutable.

  10. W. Yes! Exactly. Exactly. That’s exactly what I’m saying. Of course I’ve internalized the very same stories you guys have. How could I not? I live in the world. I don’t have the answers to any of this shit. I’m struggling, very hard, with how to even understand the questions. It’s going to be sloppy and uneven and hypocritical at times; I don’t know how else to work through this stuff.If I had a coherent worldview, I wouldn’t be a blogger, I’d be… I don’t know… a dictator or happy or something. But I wouldn’t be agonizing over this kind of stuff.I agonize over it because I see that it hurts us as a community and I, being a pinko commie whatever, care about the wellness of my community.Of course I extrapolate. I believe everything has enormous implications, always. If I tease along the way, it’s because I want you guys to be clear that I’m engaged with or disagree with your ideas, not that I’m passing judgment on you as people. I could not adore you or the Wayward Boy Scout more and I find you being here worthwhile and intellectually challenging. I hope that’s obvious.Anyway, if we really are only talking about 14 year old girls who dress slutty, then the conversation is about over, because grown-ass men who have sex with 14 year old girls are perverts who need to rot in prison, regardless of how the 14 year old girl was dressed.Yes, some 14 year old girls are "mature." Then let them fuck boys their own age. You can fuck boys your own age and not be warped by it.But grown ass men who fuck 14 year old girls are looking for girls who will never see them as anything other than infallible and powerful. Since those men have a vested interest in preventing the girl from growing up to realize what losers they are, there’s just no way they can have a healthy relationship with them.And seriously, if you are a grown-up and seriously believe that how a 14 year old girl dresses is causing you to do anything… seek help. Because that seems to me to be just a few short steps away from believing the neighbor’s dog is telling you to do things.

  11. Hey, the site looks good. But I think maybe it’s a little slutty… could be the reason why you’ve attracted all those stupid comments.Holding a 14 yr old girl more responsible for the way she dresses than the 25 yr old man who assaults her is…it’s just insane.I see plenty of girls (and boys) in outfits I don’t approve of. I would certainly agree that some people do themselves a disservice in the way they dress, but let’s step back a moment. It’s all really a matter of perception. In some cultures, a gal can go around in a grass skirt and a flower behind her ear and no one can argue provocation – in other cultures a woman might show a lock of hair and she’s a whore deserving of her fate. Which society would you rather belong to?The behaviour of assualt is what’s real, the sluttiness of your dress is perception.

  12. As usual, this whole debate seems ot break down to W and I basically saying, "Look, that’s the way the world is. We don’t like it either, but we worry about others and we want to protect them from the possible interjection of evil in the most effective way we can.And then you saying, "I don’t think it’s right that it’s this way and I think it should be this other way."We don’t disagree with you, and despite the various manhating jibes, we actually SIDE with you on this. We are just being practical because we don’t want any 14-yr-old-girl-who-thinks-she-knows-what-bad-is to be harmed, and damnit, we’ll do whatever we can to prevent that, even if it means curtailing your stupid feminist, "I can walk through the ghetto with my boob freckle hanging out because I’m a powerful woman" bullshit.God Damnit, you’re making me sound like a fucking dad!

  13. Ha, ha. I make you worry.Anyway, I still insist that one can recognize injustice, work to be safe in the face of it, AND say "I don’t think it’s right that it’s this way and I think it should be this other way" and work towards ending that injustice.If that makes me a stupid feminist, fine. I’m a stupid feminist.But I’m right anyway.

  14. I would, but I’m afraid that would be so unfair to your employer. Already, you’re sitting around daydreaming about me flaunting my boob freckle through the streets of Nashville. If I also had the world’s greatest tattoo? You wouldn’t get any work done at all for all the fantasizing.

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