Ah, the Freindzone. Well known semi-permanent stomping grounds to Nice Guys™ across North America, and throughout the UK (case in point Fresh Meat’s Kingsley, a prime example).
This article, as posted from some folks at the Feminist Alliance McMaster, shines a bit more light on the Nice Guys™ profile. As indicted therein, the picture to the right is what the Friendzone looks like IRL. (Please note the satire — we all know the Friendzone looks more like a living room or local cafe.)
Shakesville also offers an absolutely amazing piece composed by their very own Jeff Fecke. What’s great about this one is that it’s written by a dude and written with Nice Guy™ readers (or their many, many loyal defenders) in mind.
Below is (should be — please drop a line in my ask box to the tune of “wtf — where’s the essay?”, if not) a excerpt from Yes Means Yes! Visions of Female Sexual Power & A World Without Rape.
My business with this essay is the section dubbed Nice Guys™: Applying for Access to the Pussy Oversoul (pg. 33 - 35).
Toward a Performance Model of Sex, by Thomas Macaulay Millar
The term Nice Guys™ is dropped casually throughout the book, though not particularly frequently. Following my first reading of Julia Serraro’s Why Nice Guys Finish Last, I stewed on the concepts and reflected upon the ways the common definitions baffled me. All my experiences (in the previous 5 years) with nice guys involved dudes who looked like this:
Perhaps not exactly “hipsters” (by their own definitions or otherwise) but definitely close. “Alternative” guys who wanted to seem friendly and kind toward women, and “open” toward “different” experiences toward men. Some of them also looked an awful lot like this:
Classic. He’s leaning on the wall of the building that the latest Anarchist Bookfair took place in, quietly reading from a book; or having a nonchalant and highly stylized smoke outside of a venue; or sharing a bit about the price of his earth-friendly vegan footwear to charmed and curious Others. Often seen companionless… but who are we to judge?
After having been beyond wooed (you here have my permission to read that as “persistently fawned over and pestered”) by one of these architypes of Nice Guy™, I considered the options and decided (under the pressure of the aforesaid persistence) to reciprocate a bit. Bad idea.
Are there any other anarchists or radicals out there who already know where I’m going with this? Perhaps after having several similar experiences?
…Macho “anarchists” who talk too much at meetings, adhere to the cult of the great thinkers (drop Kropotkin, Bakunin, Proudhon, Chomsky, etc… all the time), negate others’ experiences, take up space, exert their privileges to their fullest, and generally perpetuate heteropatriarchal bullshit
Urban Dictionary offered that as a definition for “Manarchist”.
The NiceGuy™ brand of Manarchist avoids these more-glaring flaws by employing some very covert strategies:
Maybe they’re charming and witty, or fantastic fun, or a great ear when you’re down — heck, maybe they would be swell in bed — but don’t expect these characteristics to continue when they discover they still haven’t made their way down your pants (or noticed you’ve resisted being cornered you into a position of subtle subservience).
The most potent and definitely destructive characteristic of the Nice Guy™ brand Manarchist, Mactivist or generally Brogressive folks is that pesky habit of reacting maliciously to those who stand in the way of their pursuits for status. They can turn in an instant from accommodating, listening, supportive, “nice” friends to divisive, threatening, vengeful dicks. And they will.
Part I of a two-part project inspired by a produced by Interval House of Hamilton-Wentworth.
Abuse does not always come in the form of assault — you do not have to be hit to be abused.
Abuse can look like any of the following main signs:
Does your partner or someone close to you…
#how-to identify abuse
Part II of a two-part project inspired by a produced by Interval House of Hamilton-Wentworth.
Abuse, much like any form of oppression, is born of the belief that one person (or group) has “the right” to control another person or group. This kind of control is authoritarian and dominating.
We learn, as we are socialised, conditioned and formally educated, that Power and Control are necessary for “success”, often times a concept synonymous with “happiness” or “fortune”. Those who are most quickly able to access Power and Control, and maintain it, usually are also able to access many unearned privileges.
Some people believe it is “normal” or “natural” for one person (or group of people) to be in charge, and for other people (or groups of people) to follow the lead. A connected belief is that this dichotomy — between “naturally” dominant and “naturally” subservient — rationally justifies the ways in which certain people (or groups of people) are “punished” by those with more Power and Control. The prominent example is that of how men are assumed to be more powerful and more in-control than women.
Much of the forms of media we are exposed to throughout our lives, as well as the ways in which we are educated in school or church, and the ways we are socialised in our families and peer-relationships reinforce these beliefs. This is to say that the belief that some people are worthy of more Power and Control, while others are fated to suppression, is ingrained in many aspects of our social structure.
A person may have excuses for abusive behaviour — “they drink too much”; “they take drugs”; “they ‘just’ have a bad temper”; “they are very stressed out”; “they work a lot”; etc. People who abuse their power and who control others will often blame their abusive behaviours on something or someone else — often the person (or people) they are abusing, or acting oppressively toward.
Some abusers might suggest that they … “wouldn’t have to act that way if you would just lay off”, etc. They may suggest the abused/oppressed people are the blame. They might try to say they simply can not control their own behaviour, or that it is not their responsibility.
If you suspect you may be in an abusive relationship, Remember — You Are Not to Blame! Abusive behaviour can be controlled!
What Can You Do??
Notes on Assault
Police (in most areas) are required, by law, to lay charges when they have “reasonable grounds” to believe an assault has occurred. Assault is a crime. Assault is any form of unwanted touching or physical contact — sexual or otherwise. If anyone threatens to kill you, that is also a crime. Laying charges may reduce physical violence. This does not pertain to all the many other forms of abuse.
Children witnessing abuse are being hurt by it — they are suffering and afraid. The effects on their life could mean that they may become violent toward others in the future, suffer low self-esteem and face many other related problems.
Things to Remember
This has been adapted from the Self-Evaluation in Opening Up: A Guide to Creating and Sustaining Open Relationships, by Traintan Taormino.You can download the original and other resources here.
What are your beliefs about monogamy?
If you are currently in a relationship:
Imagine your partner having sex with another person. It’s important to be truly honest, not censor yourself, and really let yourself feel what that would be like for you:
Imagine your partner in a relationship with another person. It’s important to be truly honest, not censor yourself, and really let yourself feel what that would be like for you:
How do you handle feelings?
How available are you?
*Please pardon previous hilarious typo. ;)
When you “Fuck Up” (whether the fuck-up is minor or major) practice the “Four A’s”.
#1) Acknowledgment — is really important, IMO, because if you don’t realize what you actually did, and how it was “fucked up”, there’s a high probability that you are going to do it again — a very high probability.
#2) Apology — is also really important — but it has to be genuine (which requires #1 - Acknowledgment). Saying things like “I’m sorry if you felt bad about what I said/wrote” or “I’m sorry if your feelings got hurt”, is, IMO, completely different from saying “I’m sorry that I said/wrote that. I see how it was fucked up, and here’s how I know that it was fucked up … . . “. (Keep in mind that “if” is a word reserved for hypotheticals, and doesn’t usually refer to real life. When used in apology, “if” is usually just a dilutive, and if you can’t really apologize, then don’t apologize at all. Sort of a perverse Thumper ethic.)
#3) Amends — sometimes the energy required to actually think about how you fucked up and make an honest acknowledgment/apology is enough to return balance to the situation (depends on the type of fuck up, though). In some cases, “making amends” might also mean returning money/energy/time that your fuck-up created for someone else. This can be returned in any of a number of creative ways. Example: If you got all defensive in an argument, and therefore the argument took eight hours instead of 30 minutes (hey, I’m a lesbian — I can DO me some processing!), consider just giving the person with whom you got all defensive eight hours of your time to do for them something that they might have gotten done if you hadn’t been all uppity-up in yourself being a defensive shit (not that I’ve ever done that … .no, that has never happened with me… . . OK, maybe just that once … OK — Fuck it! I’m completely busted here … .)
#4) Action — This may be the most important of the 4 A’s. If you know that you did something that was fucked up, and you’ve expressed that you’re genuinely sorry that you did this fucked up thing, then really, the only concrete evidence of this will be that you will change what you do in the future. For me, if I don’t take this step (action), the other three are just so much manipulation.
- Don’t tone police. It is NOT your right to dictate how someone should react to their oppression.
- Don’t demand a detailed explanation.* You’re basically asking the person to justify their call out. It’s exhausting, many resources are available, and often this is just a way to try and derail, start an argument, or discredit the other person.
- Don’t get defensive. A call out is not all about you as a person.
- Don’t take it personally. Calling out is not a personal attack. If someone calls you out, they’re trying to teach you something. Calling out is a way for people to educate others on how systems of oppression operate on a day to day, individual level.
- Don’t attack the person who’s calling you out. That’s just fucked up.
- Don’t assume the person calling you out is just “looking to get offended”. Nobody enjoys calling other people out. To call someone out, people often have to mentally prepare for serious repercussions. Calling someone out might mean starting an argument, during which many people will side with the oppressor by default (especially if you’re privileged over the person calling you out).
- Understand that being oppressive is not the same as being offensive or hurting feelings. The damage you’re perpetuating is part of a larger system of oppression.
- Realize that your intent is irrelevant when it comes to whether you were oppressive or not.
- Recognize the power dynamics that are in place between you and the person calling you out.
- Understand intersectionality. IE: Just because you are oppressed by classism, doesn’t mean you lack male privilege.
- Know that being privileged means being oppressive, but you can work to reduce the ways that you are oppressive.
- Genuinely apologize.
- Work on oppression reduction and being the best ally you can be. The point of calling you out is to draw your attention to how you’re being oppressive, so that you can work to change it. If you made an oppressive joke, there’s probably oppressive thoughts in place (conscious or not) that led you to think the joke was appropriate. Everyone has to unlearn the oppressive things they’ve absorbed from an oppressive society. We are all taught ways to keep marginalized people in their place, but the good thing is that we can identify these things in ourselves and change. And then we can start working on dismantling the kyriarchy, yeah!
Feel free to add to this or change as necessary.
it is not ok to agree with me that someone is fucked up and then engage in a non critical relationship with them. because then you are normalizing their fucked up behaviour.
i’ve done it before. i’m not going to. and i’m not going to let it go with the people that are close to me. i don’t care if that makes me unpopular. i don’t care if folks don’t like it. i refuse to us all to keep annoying our privilege and further ostracize people who are critical.
particularly with dudes.
Yep. When folks do this — and here, I’ll spell it out for you…
This lack of acknowledgement and action fully dismisses a survivor’s experiences. Every time.
What these people are symbolising with their neglect is basically “Your experiences and needs are not really worth practically honouring. The autonomous life choices of the oppressor fully trump your needs for accountability, respect and validation.”
And I can’t talk with the friends of mine who have taken up this habit without feeling like their respect for me is a total lie.
This was adapted from “10 Things Men Can do to Prevent Gender Violence”, produced by MVP Strategies, Copyright 1999, Jackson Katz.
(T/W for discussion of both good and bad consent practices)
… A participant doesn’t necessarily need to label a particular sexual encounter as assault or rape to feel like that encounter was shitty or could have been better (although if they want to or they feel like that’s what happened, then yeah, that’s entirely their prerogative to do so).
This is my attempt at outlining what those conversations about consent need to look like for me. This general structure can be used from any contact along the spectrum from cuddling to fucking. I think these questions are pretty similar to the consent questions from Support Zine, but while those are really great for figuring out how you as an individual think about and practice consent, these following questions are a tool for me to figure out with a partner how we as partners want to practice consent.
While asking your partner if they want you to do such-and-such an act as you go along is a good start, I don’t think it’s enough to really make sure that everyone involved is indeed having a good time. Here are the things I like to talk about before gettin’ down with anyone:
- What kinds of things are you into? This is where I list all of the things I’d be interested in doing with a partner. This needs to be done with the understanding that you’re just letting the other person know what you’re open to doing, but those things are only going to happen if they’re also stoked on those things too. I like to think of this part as making a verbal “venn diagram” - we both throw out all the stuff we’re into, then we see where those interests intersect.
- What kinds of things are you not interested in doing?
- Are those boundaries just for this particular encounter, or is that something you might be open to doing in the future, with further discussion?
- What parts of your body can I touch, and what do you want me to call those body parts?
- Do you want me to ask each time I want to touch those body parts, or would you rather just give (or not give) consent once at the beginning?
- What should I do to avoid triggering you? What are your triggers?
- What signs should I look for to indicate you’ve been triggered?
- What do you want me to do if I think you’ve been triggered or you tell me you’ve been triggered?
- How do you want me to practice consent with you? How do you want to practice consent with me?
- How do you want me to check in with you, and how frequently?
- Do you have a tendency to automatically say yes to things without giving yourself a chance to think it over?
- Do you have a hard time saying no?
- How can I create an an environment where you feel safe and like your decisions will be respected?
- What kinds of things should I look for that would indicate you’re not having a good time?
- What’s your STI status?
- When was the last time you were tested? What, specifically, were you tested for? What were the results of those tests?
- What kind of sexual contact have you had since you were last tested?
- What was the STI status of the people you’ve had sexual contact with since the last time you were tested (if you know)?
- What STI-prevention measures did/do you take (if any were needed) with those people?
- How do you want to practice STI- and pregnancy- (if applicable) prevention with me?
I’m sure I’m forgetting things that should go on this list. I’m interested in hearing from y’all - how do you practice consent? How can we continue to improve our consent practices?
File Under: How to Prevent Rape Culture.
I really like all the consent practice questions above. Asking these sorts of questions really, truly, creates opportunities for clarifying needs, boundaries, desires and intentions — something that would be hard to gauge without asking about it (assumptions are pretty careless)!
Asking these kinds of things, having a genuine desire for the answers to these unknowns, is so fucking paramount to this. It’s really important that we aren’t just asking away to expedite the process of getting down someone’s pants. Furthermore, if you take these answers, and then choose to ignore them after you have received the answers, that is extremely violating.
Something that I would like to point out is that taking the time to understand our selves, how we might Answer these questions, is oftentimes what makes up wholesome, cohesive consent: Learning how to say No is important — Learning how to accept No is not merely an assert, it’s a fucking required!
That said, “No”, and other signs of lack of consent (e.g. anything but Yes) need to be present. Saying “Yes”, or providing other affirmations, when you don’t mean it is extremely dangerous!
Finally, I want to mention that for some people, sitting down and hearing these questions one after the next like this can be intimidating and feel like interrogation. We must each learn how to incorporate consideration for these things into daily interactions with partners and friends. There may be some for whom answering these questions all at once feels really good. Allowing these questions to become concerns we care about all the time (rather than right before sex, for example) is going to make sure the answers come fluidly and naturally.
I am super into discussing more about this.
Based on INCITE!’s Community Accountability Within the People of color Progressive Movement 2004 Report.
How Is Gender Oppression within Progressive, Radical, Revolutionary Movement(s) Maintained, Supported, Encouraged?
Patriarchy: The Root of Gender Oppression
The system of patriarchy is the root of gender oppression. We all exist within a system of oppression which assumes rigid gender binaries of women and men, female and male; which values males and the male-identified and devalues female and the female-identified; which assumes heterosexual normativity; which delegates men/boys/male-identified to roles and positions which have higher status and levels of decision-making than women/girls/female-identified; which assume male values as universal and given.
This system of patriarchy intersects with racism, classism, homophobia/heterosexism, transphobia, ableism, ageism, nativism (anti-immigrants) to oppress women of color/queer people of color. Ultimately, it oppresses us all. Despite our commitment to social justice and liberation, we as activists, organizations and movement are not immune.
Gender oppression is not just an [isolated] act, it’s a state of mind and a way of doing. The patterns of power and control, acts of abuse and violence, and cultures and conditions tolerating, condoning, encouraging and perpetrating abuse and violence appear to follow certain patterns.
Tools for Maintaining Gender Oppression: Denial, Minimizing, Victim-Blaming, Counter-Organizing
Patriarchy upholds and supports gender oppression. 4 primary tools for maintaining gender oppression and for avoiding accountability are: 1) Denial; 2) Minimizing; 3) Victim-Blaming; and 4) Counter-Organizing.
Our progressive, radical, revolutionary people of color as individuals, organizations and movement (just as the rest of the world) have been pretty good at denying that gender oppression exists.
What can denial look like?
Our progressive, radical, revolutionary people of color as individuals, organizations and movements (just as the rest of the world) have been pretty good at minimizing gender oppression as an issue or minimizing situations/acts/patterns of gender oppression.
What can minimizing look like?
Our progressive, radical, revolutionary people of color as individuals, organizations and movements (just as the rest of the world) have been pretty good at blaming the victim or others who call for accountability when gender oppression as an issue or a situation of gender oppression arises. This blaming the victim or allies is often combined with denial and minimizing.
What can victim-blaming look like?
Our progressive, radical, revolutionary people of color as individuals, organizations and movements (just as the rest of the world) have been pretty good at using the skills and tactics better used for fighting real enemies against people (usually women/girls/female-identified) who raise the issue of gender oppression, abuse or violence or a situation of gender oppression, abuse or violence.
Basically, this means that our own people (mostly men/boys/male-identified but also women/girls/femaleidentified) have been good at counter-organizing. And counter-organizing can involve a higher level of the devaluation, deceit, and manipulation which are all also a part of the dynamics of gender oppression and avoidance of accountability.
What can counter-organizing look like?
More on Counter-Organizing (or: What Is the Opposite of Accountability?)
People who commit acts of gender oppression, abuse, and violence can add on all sorts of additional manipulative behavior in order to: 1) Make sure their victims/survivors don’t do anything back, 2) Make sure they don’t get caught, 3) Make sure that if they do get caught they can get out of it.
These 3 things are the OPPOSITE of ACCOUNTABILTY.
1) Make sure their victims/survivors don’t do anything back
2) Make sure they don’t get caught
3) Make sure if they do get caught, they can get out of it
And It Can Get Even Sneakier and Nastier
Some oppressive, abusive, and/or violent people (mostly men/boys/male-identified but also women/girls/female-identified/transgender) go beyond these actions and devote considerable energy towards increasing their opportunities for abuse. Some examples include:
From the epic zine, The Revolution Starts at Home
Download the Entire Zine Here (.pdf)
…Or Otherwise Acting Oppressively:
Everyone in the community has a role to play in preventing abuse and/or oppression. You may suspect abuse is happening to a neighbour, friend, family member or co-worker, but don’t know what to do or how to talk about it. You may worry about making the situation worse.
Sometimes, people around someone who has been behaving oppressively/abusively overlook their behaviour, and only focus on supporting the person who has been abused. At other times, people may sympathize with whoever is acting oppressively. This may inadvertently escalate abuse.
Talking to someone who is acting oppressively is integral to preventing abuse, and needs to be done with care. Oppression and abuse will not ‘go away’ on its own.
Here’s what you can do:
If the Person Acting Oppressively/Abusively Denies Abuse:
Overcoming Your Hesitation to Help
Here are some concerns you may have about wehther you should help, and points to consider:
*Adapted from the Neighbours, Friends and Families pamphlet, How to Talk to Men Who are Abusive, printed June 2006. The original guide often suggests involving the police. As someone trying to stop oppression or abuse, avoid calling the police unless all other options have failed — the survivor of assault/oppression/abuse may have traumatic associations, and may not consent to dealing with the police. Involving the police could escalate the abuse or trauma. If calling the police seems necessary, ask for the consent from the person whose safety you are concerned for, if possible.