Don’t be that guy

Hey guys? You know that just because you helped her get home, doesn’t mean you get to help yourself, right? That’s right, if a girl is too drunk to get herself to a cab, or too irresponsible to have planned her own ride home – and you do what men have done through history, which is to step in and help her – this is a reminder to you that you don’t get to rape her once she’s home. Got that? Maybe you should write it down, so you don’t forget. In fact, some very kindly folks have spent a lot of money to plaster your city with posters to remind you. Don’t be that guy. Those reminders are necessary, obviously, because without being told, you might just rape somebody by accident. Whoops! Because that’s what men are like, right? Shit, without a constant reminder, that’s what you are like. So remember, don’t be that guy.

Does any of this have a familiar ring to it?

All men are rapists. Rape culture. Men can stop rape. And now, Don’t be that guy. The message is the same, the rhetoric is constantly re-tooled because telling men they’re fundamentally violent, predatory and evil only works as long as it takes men to decode and then reject the hatred and scorn heaped onto them by such messaging. Don’t be that guy is a pretty good one. It sells the idea to men that male sexual identity is fundamentally toxic, except for one or two good men. So don’t be like those other guys, you know, the bad ones; instead, be different from the herd, be better, because you’ve managed to overcome your own natural evil, and you’re one of the good ones. What a good dog you are.

And this helpful reminder postered all over the city I live in, and likely your town soon – brought to you by the same fine folks who claim that violence done to 6-year-old little boys, along with the message to those little boys, to “man up” – is actually violence against women.

Yeah, a funny thing about that poster campaign is that if you actually bother to do the research, and examine who are the predominant abusers of children, by percentage – according to the US Department of Health & Human Services annual Child Maltreatment report – it’s mostly their mothers and other female family members acting in a care-taking role committing the majority of physical and psychological abuse of children. So depicting a small boy with a bloodied face, and then claiming in the rhetoric of your poster that child abuse against male children is actually violence against women surpasses my definition of obscene.

But the fine folks who brought you a small bloodied boy – and claiming this is violence against women – are now telling you to not be that guy. You know, don’t be the guy that by implication, all other guys are. You know, rapists. They don’t exactly come directly out and say all men are rapists, because that old feminist rhetoric from the 1970’s was clumsy, and clearly identifiable as vicious, and insane, and sick. Don’t be that guy is a lot smoother, even if it’s saying the same thing.

And, according to the website of the producers of this public messaging, they have been, as they claim, “working to prevent violence against women for 32 years”. That makes them quite clearly a 2nd wave feminist organization – the second wave being what brought the world such luminaries as Dworkin, MacKinnon and Solanas. “All men are rapists and that’s all they are.” ~ Marilyn French

As always, whenever stopping or reducing violence is mentioned on their site, it’s with the limiting clause – against women. The imperative isn’t to stop violence, or even to stop domestic violence, just that which is against women. Nevermind that men are much more than half of the victims of violence in general, and according to Stats Canada, roughly half the victims of domestic abuse. Does anybody think that in 2013, this is based on honest error or ignorance? The majority of domestic violence is reciprocal. The fact that this needs to be pointed out, again, and supported by citation of hundreds of peer-reviewed studies – again – illustrates the willful ignorance of this – which MUST be known by anyone working in the field of DV, unless they are totally incompetent. In fact, in the minority of cases of domestic violence where it is non reciprocal, which is to say, one clear aggressor and one clear victim who does not reciprocate the abuse – the aggressors are in most cases women.

So let’s stop violence against women. And let’s also have the fire department put out the flames on only the south and east facing walls of buildings when they’re burning. They could pretend to fight fires, and they’d look heroic as hell doing it as long as nobody noticed they were ignoring half the problem. You might even be justified in saying that a fire department was contributing to the fire damage of buildings by working from a deliberately broken and incoherent methodology which ignored the fact that a structure fire burns everything in its path, not just the south or east walls.

But selling the story of abused women and violent men is the fast track to donations and public support. The more nuanced truth doesn’t tap quite so well into everybody’s wallets.

And from the website of BWSS “When we launched The Violence Stops Here in 2010, Battered Women’s Support Services urged men to own their role in ending violence against women”.

Did you catch that? Men, own your role. You are the problem, you are the violent, you are the rapists, and even when you’re none of those, you are complicit. You are aiding and abetting rape and abuse.

Own your role in 2010, and now, don’t be That Guy.

But I have my own reading of that message, Don’t be that guy. Remember that these posters trade on the natural protective instincts of men. Just because you helped her get safely home, doesn’t mean you get to help yourself. The producers of these campaigns are counting on the fact that you’re already a good guy, even as they try to convince you that you’re basically rotten: in fact, a you’re rapist needing a reminder to not rape.

So you helped her get safely home. Don’t be that guy. And I’m not telling you what to do or not do, I’m just sharing my personal reading – the message I take away from a poster designed to make me hate my own sexual identity. And, it seems that after decades of this kind of hatred and scorn heaped onto men, a lot of them are reading the same message I am. Has anybody heard of the term marriage strike? Has anybody seen any of the mainstream media’s coverage of men increasingly disengaging from dating, from career, from that old treadmill of protect, provide, and die when convenient for others?

Just because you helped her get home, doesn’t mean you get to help yourself. Well, no shit. And what about “Don’t be that guy?” No problem.

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