By Elizabeth Matz
In the production of pornography, you take our actual lived pain, violation and destruction and turn it into sexual entertainment: To arouse yourselves, to masturbate, to influence and coerce other women and girls, and to make billions of dollars. You take what we’ve revealed of the real experience and impact of rape and child sexual abuse: our content, our words, our insights, our dynamics, our feelings, our needs and call it fantasy, fiction, pretend, education or your free speech.
You steal it and throw it back at us as trivial! (Common place, insignificant, unimportant.) The fact and experience of our hurt, pain and destruction are “disappeared,” vaporized, made invisible, turned into mere representation: not real or actual.
Often you respond, “Don’t indict all men – only some men do these things.” I am told I am wrong to say “men oppress women” because only certain men do: sick men, pathological men, deviant men, immature men, abused men, bad men, sinful men, not real men, anti-feminist men, misogynist men, wrong thinking men, criminal men, ignorant men, cruel-mean men.
Then I would ask you, “Where are the rest of you: healthy men, normal men, mature men, well cared for men, good men, innocent men, real men, evolved men, forward thinking men, smart men, sensitive men, progressive men, enlightened men, pro-feminist men, women-loving men, right minded men, innocent-guiltless men, educated men, sensitive-kind men?”
Where is the relevant data that would indicate your active presence?
What is the probability of finding a representative sample of this population of good men? Perhaps you are not statistically significant? What is the probability that you lack power and validity? Clearly you lack reliability.
Men oppress women
Some men oppress women
Some men do not oppress women
Not all men oppress women
Not all men do not oppress women
Not only some men do not oppress women
Some men do not not oppress women
Whatever the hypothesis – the key word is “null”
Is there an inverse correlation between the level of your objections to being categorized as “all men” and the actual putting-of-your-money-where-your-mouth-is? Do you lack the required numbers to have sufficient power?
A review of the amount and varieties of male violations and violence seems to indicate that male violence is not a deviation from the norm. It seems, rather, quite standard: a standard deviation.
Perhaps I have overlooked a quite subtle approach on your part due to inadequately reviewing your efforts against violence against women. Then I must acknowledge being too hard on your soft approach.
Is it that good men were previously active against male violence but only recently have become less so? If so, an analysis of the regression is clearly called for. However, interpretation of the data does not indicate lowered or decreased levels of male social action in response to male violence.
All things considered, I believe we do not err in any direction when we implicate “men” as the oppressors of women.
While this particular generic use of the term “men” is appropriate, it is also true that individual right-thinking men do exist. So, where are you, good men, and what are you doing?
I don’t see a visible national group of male authors of the best known academic and clinical writing on violence and abuse (joined with the requisite politicians and celebrities) organizing men against violence against women, or men against rape.
I do not see you, mainstream male researchers and clinicians, involved in, or even calling for, such action in a major national, visible movement. I understand that you are very busy researching, writing and publishing on violence against women. I understand that it takes all the time and energy you’ve got to just earn a living, gain recognition, build status and a career on women’s abuse.
Operationalize yourselves! Quantitative and qualitative change is called for. We’ll be looking for empirical, observable, dare I say, objective, even statistical data indicating that you are good men taking effective action toward ending abuse of women and girls.
This article was first published in Women & Therapy in 1994 and is reproduced here with the author’s permission.
Elizabeth Matz, PhD, is an independent feminist scholar and psychotherapist in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Her research and writing are centered on the social construction of gender as the foundation of sexualized violations. She does long term psychotherapy with adult survivors of childhood trauma.