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If we just start calling it “foosnoozle”, then we can declare there’s no more cancer

By Amanda Marcotte
Tuesday, June 3, 2008 20:54 EDT
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The wingnut version of a Zen koan: “If a woman is beaten or raped, but shuts up about it and doesn’t tell anyone, did it really happen?” I mean, no one but the abuser knows about it, right? So it’s like it didn’t happen, right? Sure, you weenie liberals might say the victim knows about it, but that’s because you’re liberals and you just love victims, to the degree that you’re willing to believe that if a woman suffers, it matters even if she doesn’t bother anyone with her bitching and moaning about it.

If that sounds extreme, well explain to me how else we’re supposed to take this column by Dennis Prager.

If you want to understand the negative impact of feminism on women (and men) and, by extension, the destructive effects of liberal teachers, Democratic politics and liberal news media on African-Americans, here is Katie Couric last week on the CBS Evening News…

Every time I hear this whine, I want to ask, what form of victimizing do wingnuts think is legitimate? Is rape the right thing to do? Is beating your wife A-OK? Because those are the primary forms of violence against women that feminists agitate against, “creating” victims that apparently wouldn’t be victims if they shut up about it.

Interestingly, these are the same assholes who think a brainless ball of cells that actually can’t speak up, perceive anything, or suffer is a “victim”. Tree stumps you kick in frustration probably count more as victims than women who actually suffer from men’s abuse.

“A new study on teens and sexual harassment should give every parent pause.

“Most teenage girls report they’ve been sexually harassed. … In a study that appeared in the journal Child Development, 90 percent of teen girls say they’ve been harassed at least once.”

Millions of American parents and their daughters were told on one of the most widely watched evening news reports that nine out of every 10 American girls aged 12 to 18 are sexually harassed.

The solution to the problem, therefore, is for teenage girls to realize they’re second class citizens and not upset first class citizens like Prager with their silly complaints. Weirdly, the idea that if the parents didn’t know, it didn’t happen, is an idea that most teenagers are down with a good deal of the time. It’s those occasions that I suspect that Prager thinks that the kids should be required to upset their parents. For instance, many a pregnant teenage girl, particularly with abusive parents (of course, if she declares the bruises were from stump-kicking, then the abuse really didn’t happen), would love to have the right to get an abortion without telling her parents, making the whole incident go away without ever really having happened, because unless a man validates it, it’s not real. But I bet Prager wouldn’t extend her the right to hide an abortion even as she demands that she pretends she’s not getting sexually harassed at school.

Prager reads the report, and concludes that indeed, sexual harassment will disappear as long as women learn to shut up and take it without bitching about it.

First, “The study found that girls who had a better understanding of feminism were more likely to recognize sexual harassment.”

There is no question that this is true. Girls subjected to feminist indoctrination are undoubtedly more likely to interpret innocuous behavior as sexual harassment.

Never trust a man who wants you to believe goosing or waggling his dick at you is “innocuous behavior”. I’m serious. I wonder how many times Prager would let a woman he actually loves be subjected to behavior he considers “innocuous” when it’s used to intimidate women he thinks deserve to be abused for being uppity. My guess is not a whole lot.

He then puffs up the column with some off-topic ranting about how women should be grateful that we’re permitted to read, and in turn, we should do him the favor of letting a little rape and sexual abuse slide here and there. After all, we wouldn’t want the vote taken away, would we? So lay on your back and think of Susan B. Anthony until it’s over.

Second, “sexual harassment” is so all-inclusive as to be largely meaningless: “sexist comments about their academic abilities, sexist comments about their athletic abilities unwanted romantic attention, demeaning gender-related comments, teasing based on their appearance, and unwanted physical contact.”

If a girls bra is snapped in elementary or high school; if a girl is told she should learn to throw a ball “like a guy does”; if a boy pursues a girl and fails in his pursuit — these are all instances of sexism and sexual harassment.

I’m trying to imagine his reaction if a group of high school girls decided to follow the boys around, squeezing their balls really hard until it hurt, and then running around telling everyone that the dicks then fondled have been determined to be tiny. I somehow doubt he’d think that it was kosher.

And “if a boy pursues a girl and fails in his pursuit” is how he defines “unwanted physical contact.” Pretending that groping random women is a come-on is, once again, not something that I’d believe he’d stick with if he saw it happening to his mother. But he wants your daughter to pretend the guy who grabbed her ass in the hallway for the entertainment of his fellows was just an inept lover. Not in my experience. Really, Prager’s opinion of teenage boys is perilously low if he thinks they’re this stupid. Even in the fumbling days of adolescence, boys don’t think that assaulting and humiliating girls is the best way to get those girls to like you. They’re not dumb. They assault and humiliate—get this—because they want their victims to be hurt and humiliated. Because it makes the assailant feel powerful and important. I suspect that while arguing this point, Prager would lie about it, but otherwise he’d probably happily admit that people enjoy feeling powerful for its own sake.

What Prager doesn’t argue, and what he needs to be able to prove for his essay to be anything but arguing that the problem with harassment and assault is that women complain about it, is a shred of evidence that girls’ reactions to being sexually harassed differ greatly if they don’t have a name for it. And there’s no reason to think that. I didn’t know to call sexual harassment “sexual harassment” when it happened, but I knew that I hated it. I just called it “bullying”. Girls don’t enjoy having teenage boys prove their masculinity by intimidating and assaulting the girls. His argument is literally one of semantics. He might as well be saying that you can’t be sexually harassed if you speak a non-English language because you’ll use whatever your native tongue’s phrase is for it. And that the tree didn’t fall in the forest if you described it as “toppling”.

Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte is a freelance journalist born and bred in Texas, but now living in the writer reserve of Brooklyn. She focuses on feminism, national politics, and pop culture, with the order shifting depending on her mood and the state of the nation.
 
 
 
 
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