Up Front by Emma Hart

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Up Front: Dear Dudebros

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  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Gregor Ronald,

    “Why insist on bad sex?”

    One answer is that it usually takes people a while to discover "good sex". By that I mean even if folks read everything on the internet - and their brains don't melt out their ears - they still won't know what they like and it's unlikely they will have met a partner willing to explore until they can figure it out.

    So for someone who has no idea what good sex is then any sex becomes the goal - in a sense it's a race to the bottom.

    That's why really good sex education would/should include practical courses.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4460 posts Report Reply

  • Fiona Mckenzie,

    yes - thank you Emma - now more of us need to be as clear.

    Christchurch • Since Jun 2015 • 16 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/travel/kiwi-traveller/81602442/opinion-young-female-travel-is-not-the-problem

    I spent two weeks travelling around Cambodia and Malaysia recently - guarding my belongings and dressing as conservatively as I could muster, as advised - yet it was the day I returned to New Zealand that I felt unsafe.

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7950 posts Report Reply

  • andin, in reply to ,

    they perceive themselves

    Self perception is a funny, as in peculiar, thing. Its too often totally unreliable, especially if you do something dumb but cant admit it to yourself. One doesnt have to look to hard to see that in action.
    Self inquiry, with a good dose of honesty, and someone else around who will point out your BS is probably more fruitful. Real introspection is hard thats why most people dont want to do it. Shame, cause we need it now more than ever.

    Dont take it personally, but in my experience, the male of the species is crap at that. Thats not a rule, just an observation.

    One thing that baffles me why are rugby players prone to being complete shit gibbons? Play your game, go home. Whats difficult about that.

    Great observations Emma.

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1890 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __,

    A friend who is a former sex-worker has given me permission to quote her on the issue of assault.

    “I was a sex worker who had full sex with my clients & I still got to set my boundaries. 99% of my clients were cool with that.
    99% of my clients were really respectful about touching me even though they had permission to. Because 99% of my clients weren’t abusive dickheads.
    It’s upsetting to hear ppl say I should’ve expected to be assaulted because of my work. Awful to me & to my clients who were largely good people.”

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3891 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to andin,

    One thing that baffles me why are rugby players prone to being complete shit gibbons? Play your game, go home. Whats difficult about that.

    It's the pack mentality, not limited to sportsball fanatics, but certainly exemplified by them. "If everyone else is doing it I can't be wrong to do it too ". Any group of males is self-reinforcing in behaviour. If its a group of good blokes, the reinforced behaviour is good. But it only takes one real shit-gibbon to turn a bunch of insecure blokes into howling monkeys themselves. It does take, as stephen alludes to, real balls to stand up to a group of shit-gibbons in full roar.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2935 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to ,

    You know something I don’t understand, where did John Kerwin’s anxiety and depression come from?

    It's a medical condition, an imbalance of neurotransmitters in the brain. It isn't about "what did he fear?" because what he feared was being found out a fraud, no matter how authentic his achievements actually were. It's not insanity, it's illness. Sometimes it's brought on by stress, sometimes by illness, sometimes genetic disposition. Mine was stress-originated, but removing the stress hasn't removed the illness, nor will it ever. I take tablets every day because the alternative is too terrible to go through again.

    I belong to a men's group the Whirlwind Trust which is basically for broken blokes like me, getting together and supporting each other. The common story that comes across is "I failed".

    To me, that's what JK was anxious about - failing, or not being the best. For all his hard work, even while he was the best wing in rugby, he was still anxious about failing, letting the pack (literal and figurative) down. And, over time, his anxiety became self-fueling, because that's what the fucking thing does. It's addictive. Runners get addicted that dopamine high. Anxious people get just as addicted to whatever neurotransmitter is out of balance (it's not the same for everyone) only it's more destructive. Worst case is fugue state where you just can't bloody move.

    I used to get into work and have a game of Freecell before I got started. Then another, then "I'll do that after I finish this game", until it was all I could do to move the mouse. Outside work, you wouldn't know there was anything wrong, but in the office I became incapable of making a decision or getting anything done. It wasn't until it became an employment issue that I was able to get help.

    When we talk about changing the culture, it's not just about rape (because not all men are rapists), it's about changing the mentality that "boys will be boys" is an okay philosophy, that women are objects, and thus property and can be disposed of at the whim of a man, that "boys don't cry" is the way to raise a man. We're really talking about respect, for ourselves and each other. Unfortunately, the lack of respect leaves women unsafe (not feeling unsafe, but actually at risk).

    Here endeth the lesson ;-)

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2935 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell,

    Via a mate on facebook – Boys don’t cry? who commented that boys tend not to get sympathy when they show weakness and this can lead to emotional ‘hardness’ and lack of reciprocal empathy.
    (Which is just to say, ‘man up’ isn’t a great message – no intention to excuse vile behaviour.)

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2110 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to nzlemming,

    because not all men are rapists

    Women have to assume every man is a potential rapist, unless we have reason to believe otherwise.

    A friend of mine tonight gave me the name of her date, in case something happened to her. That’s a hell of a fear to have to carry.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3891 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to ,

    You know something I don’t understand, where did John Kerwin’s anxiety and depression come from? That campaign was good for helping men get a bit real, which helps with better sexing behaviour, but it’s done nothing to explain why such a large number of New Zealand men are so fucked up.

    I'd say another aggravating factor is de-industrialisation, which affects mostly men without university degrees. It's sadly no coincidence that Donald Trump has actively pitched to America's Rust Belt working class that he can somehow reopen the steel mills and car factories. In Britain it was a similar thing with the Brexit vote.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5441 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Lilith __,

    Women have to assume every man is a potential rapist, unless we have reason to believe otherwise.

    Yes, that's the concomitant reality, which is why I said "Unfortunately, the lack of respect leaves women unsafe (not feeling unsafe, but actually at risk)."

    A friend of mine tonight gave me the name of her date, in case something happened to her. That’s a hell of a fear to have to carry.

    I hear you.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2935 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Kumara Republic,

    I'd say another aggravating factor is de-industrialisation, which affects mostly men without university degrees.

    Nuh, I don't agree. NZ maleness has been fucked up since forever. Partly, it's the hangover from the colonial inheritance of the stiff upper lip. Just because we rejected the British class system in favour of "Jack's as good as his master" crowdocracy, doesn't mean we didn't retain a lot of those imperial prejudices such as racism (or "white exceptionalism") and the stoic image of "what makes a man a man". Even in full employment days, we still had people with depression who were told to just get on with it and "man up", and to be ashamed if it ever got out.

    De-industrialisation as a consequence of globalism or neo-liberalism doesn't help matters, and may aggravate them, but the rot is at the root of our self-perception and has been for decades.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2935 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen R,

    There was a line going round university when I was there "maybe all mean aren't rapists, but all men profit from rape".

    My now-wife suggested when we got together that I read a book called "Reflecting men at twice their natural size" by Sally Cline and Dale Spender, where they started by pointing out the things that many women do that salve men's egos and emotionally manage them, with examples like how a woman who claims 50% of the conversational space will be seen as grabbing more than her share by both the man in the conversation and the woman. That men interrupt women in conversation at a rate much higher than women interrupt men, and that seems fair to all the people involved.

    Why do (many) women act this way?

    Conditioning. Being told that's what they should do, by other women, men, society; and the conscious or unconscious fear of rape, abuse and sexual harassment.

    It doesn't require that most men be shitgibbons, just that there are enough shitgibbons for women to (subconsciously?) change their behaviour around men to be more accommodating.

    One reviewer said the authors verged on misandry; but I found it quite compelling, and even now, 25 years later, I find their arguments (what I remember of them) in the back of my mind when I find myself bridling at being interrupted by a woman, or tempted to interrupt them in turn. I am still a work in progress, but my wife thinks I'm still worth keeping around... (at least, that's what she tells me).

    Wellington • Since Jul 2009 • 259 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Stephen R,

    “Reflecting men at twice their natural size”

    No Tall Men?

    “Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions.”

    “The difference between genius and stupidity is: genius has its limits.”
    ― Alexandre Dumas-fils


    But seriously, I think part of the big pattern of violence against women is that it is often perpetrated by men who are, given the chance, violent to everyone...
    and that there is a big difference between self respect, self esteem and self absorption
    Plus a culture (mass media driven) that glorifies rage and violence and offers little on how to divert anger and play well with others.

    Old arguments I know...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7950 posts Report Reply

  • Tim Michie,

    Always appreciate your blogs Emma. I'm having conversational flashbacks on this albeit none with the éclat of 'feckless shitgibbons' - my WOTY sorted.

    Auckward • Since Nov 2006 • 614 posts Report Reply

  • Rosemary McDonald, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    That’s why really good sex education would/should include practical courses.

    Waikato, or on the road • Since Apr 2014 • 1346 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Rosemary McDonald,

    You read my mind. Which is why you're now consuming bleach...

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2935 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Hosking, in reply to Rob Stowell,

    (Which is just to say, ‘man up’ isn’t a great message – no intention to excuse vile behaviour.)

    I've used 'have some common fucking decency' on a couple of occasions. Stops it becoming a gender role thing. And besides, its really what is at the heart of the issue.

    South Roseneath • Since Nov 2006 • 830 posts Report Reply

  • Sister Mary Gearchange, in reply to nzlemming,

    >>It’s the pack mentality, not limited to sportsball fanatics, but certainly exemplified by them. “If everyone else is doing it I can’t be wrong to do it too ”. Any group of males is self-reinforcing in behaviour. <<

    Purely a side note, 'pack reaction' is not gendered. *Humans* do it. *What* they do as a group, or rather, the limits that the group will assume, are culturally and gender bounded. There's some fascinating research out there on group reaction across gender and culture.

    Since Oct 2015 • 19 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    But seriously, I think part of the big pattern of violence against women is that it is often perpetrated by men who are, given the chance, violent to everyone…

    So, there are some people who have genuine self-control issues and are violent pretty much indiscriminately.

    But. Most abusers are bullies. They are ONLY violent towards people they perceive as being weaker than themselves - children, women, non-Masculinity-Box-conforming men. They are only violent in circumstances where they feel there won't be consequences - in the privacy of their own homes, or in a social situation where they feel people are on their side. That last is vitally important. The higher they perceive the odds being of someone speaking out, the less likely they are to abuse. These people have ENORMOUS self-control. They exercise violence in a culture that supports them doing so.

    Also, let me say, there are things I write about because they're "my" things, and things I don't because they aren't. I don't feel, for instance, that it's my place to write on Trans* issues, because they're not MY issues. I did feel it was my place to write on the higher levels of abuse that bisexual women suffer, and when I did that, nobody was all "But what about straight women?"

    Male victims, particularly of sexual and domestic violence, are frequently and sometimes deliberately erased. If anyone wants to write on that, because it's "their" thing, I would happily publish that here, anonymously if necessary.

    Relatedly, I'll put my hand up and say, I am the person Lilith is talking about with the dating thing. When I go on a first date with a new guy, I:

    - choose the venue. Some bars, like Pomeroy's and The Twisted Hop, are Safe Places. Others, like Aikman's, are not. I will only go somewhere where, if my date turns out to be a Problem, the staff will back me up and help me out.

    - get there first. I have a table chosen with good sight and exit lines. I have bought myself my own drink.

    - let a select few people know everything I know about the guy, all the identifying details, in case I don't make it home.

    These are the "sensible precautions" I feel I need to take in order to lessen my chances of being raped or killed when I go on a date. Let that sink in.

    A while back, I asked people for their humorously awful dating stories, so I could do a column about it and conceal which stories were mine. After a bit, I specifically asked for stories from men, because I was only getting tales from women. I got two stories from men. In the meantime, the stories from women just kept getting more and more horrible, and less funny. A woman who let a man drop her home after their first date. He broke into her house and attacked her. I have a couple of dozen of these.

    Last year, I went out with a guy for four months. After we broke up, I politely asked him to please stop contacting me. He did not. For seven months. (I eventually got him to stop. If you want to know how, contact me privately, and I'll tell you.)

    So yeah, not all men. I know that, I've never said otherwise. Many of my best friends are quite literally men. But,as has already been pointed out, I cannot, simply cannot, afford to assume that any new man I meet is not one of Some Men.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to ,

    But. Most abusers are bullies. ...

    That’s dead right – well said.

    Which goes to another real problem with NZ society. Bullying is an accepted, even encouraged behaviour. We're doing something wrong as a society and the consequences are horrible.

    quite literally men

    And because my brain can't help it now I want to know what a figurative man is ... there is probably a really obvious boring answer but I really want there to be some fantastical answer.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4460 posts Report Reply

  • linger, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    Obvious boring answer:
    a quite literal “some of my best friends are…” statement.

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1940 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    metaphorplay...

    I want to know what a figurative man is …

    I'm sure that a figure-eightive man is probably an ice skater,
    but it gets thinner the further I get from the shore...
    :- )

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7950 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    Which goes to another real problem with NZ society. Bullying is an accepted, even encouraged behaviour. We’re doing something wrong as a society and the consequences are horrible.

    It’s not just a physical thing. Anyone who’s abnormally psychopathic can be a bully, and that goes for hitting a family member with a hosepipe, just as much as it does for the Rupert Murdochs, Donald Trumps and Martin Shkrelis of this world who use big money to beat down those below them. Come to think of it, when the latter involve violence, it's probably when they outsource it to hired heavies.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5441 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to ,

    I've been bullied in a workplace. A council, sorry to disappoint.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19740 posts Report Reply

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