Wednesday, May 9, 2007
What I'll be doing this year at Wiscon:
Sunday, 10:00-11:15 p.m. SAILING STRANGE WINDS: HEAVE TO AND PREPARE TO BE BOARDED!
Reading fiction along with Hilary Moon Murphy, Kelly Barnhill, and Michael Merriam.
Sunday, 1:00-2:15 p.m Male Allies
"What does *good* ally behavior look like? Abortion rights, housework equity, absentee fathering, and the income gap continue as feminist themes. Can the feminist revolution move forward without the active participation of men? How do men find something for themselves in the revolution's goals rather than just seeing some of their own (arguably unearned) privilege vanishing? This panel will feature several feminist men talking about how feminism has affected their personal lives as well as their political lives, in the hopes of opening the dialogue."
Jef a. Smith, Benjamin Micah Rosenbaum, Gregory G. Rihn, M: Ian K. Hagemann, Alan Bostick
Monday, 11:30am-12:45pm The SignOut
A very light schedule... so if anyone has any understaffed panels they are desperately looking to beef up, you know... say the word. I'm also going to see if I can volunteer to be on kids' programming and/or childcare. (A couple of years ago I got to tell the kids a story at childcare; it was like having a second reading!)
I am a little nervous about "Male Allies". I mean, it could be great. Certainly the issues are important. When I signed up for it, I was like, wonderful! I am all about the feminism-being-essential-to-men thing!
However there is much that is potentially awful about such a panel. I don't know which would be more cringe-inducing -- an "aren't we great?" panel in which we brag about our oh-so-enlightened marriages, attitudes, politics, etc., etc., or a desperate effort to avoid same in which we wallow in unremitting guilt about our sexism. Whoo boy.
(Update: Moderator Ian Hagemann has written us and now I feel much better; he seems to have an excellent handle on things...)
Posted by benrosen at May 9, 2007 05:35 PM
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Is that the same Ian who was on the "Why Men Hate Sex" panel? He was good.
Ok, I'll bite. Why do men hate sex?
Matt, here's David's liveblogging of same.
Short answer, quoting myself from the end of that panel:
"[W]omen can talk much more easily about whether and when and how they like or dont like sex. With men . . . if youre not able to say no to something, youre not really able to say yes either. Theres so much at stake for men. Mens attention is often not so much on having sex as on having done her."
If you have very little cultural room to admit, to yourself and others, that you might not like something all the time, constantly, any way you can get it... then that might be a little clue that you don't like it as much as you think you do.
Hm. Okay, but does that mean that we hate it?
Ah, provocative panel title for the purposes of engendering (har!) discussion. I get it. Moving right along...
FYI, here's the panel description from the program guide:
For Joe Weinberg, author of the book from which this panel takes its title, men hate and fear and receive less pleasure from any sex that they don’t define and control. The way each generation of adults teaches boys about sex teaches them to hate sex. All the hypocrisy from organized religion, coaches, parents, schools, the porn industry, their peers, etc. sets boys up for the kill. Child illegitimacy, "one night stands," modesty, chastity, fidelity and virginity as "virtues" to be forced upon females, female promiscuity a crime, monogamy: a way to control and police female sexuality, myth of Blue Balls, pornography as sex education texts, "sex tourism?" Grand Theft Auto, domestic violence, rape, "hate fuck," date rape drug, infidelity a norm, female genital mutilation, Hooters, prostitution, FDS, witch burnings, intercourse as the "main course," ignorance of female pleasure, "Best Friends With Benefits," are all feature of the predominant male–defined sexuality. For many males, sex is a way to avoid intimacy. The "sex" boys are taught avoids and denies emotional connection. Sex is taught as if it was dirty and, as a result, males are at best ambivalent about sex. The sex so many practice is counter–intuitive to having their innate drive met to connect on a cellular, heart level with another full human being.
I'm willing to go with "Ah, provocative panel title for the purposes of engendering (har!) discussion. I get it." and move on, but if anyone actually wants to argue about this with me:
What does it mean to connect on a "celluar, heart level" with another human being?
I mean, love I get. I love my wife, I've loved others, I'm not saying that emotions don't happen. But they don't happen in my cells or in my heart, any more than they happen in Hallmark cards, that's just flowery (meaningless) rhetoric. Forgive me if the intellectual dishonesty of the last sentence makes me question the intellectual honesty of the rest of the argument, but I don't see it.
"Men hate sex" is just as silly a thing to say as "White folks can't dance." I've seen Rosenbaum dance, for instance, and I assure you some of them can.
Please note that most of us who were on the panel rolled our eyes at the panel description.
If you were asking me "why men hate sex" my answer stands. If you were asking me "do men hate sex?" my answer is "sometimes". If you are asking about the panel description's evocative and passionately felt effusions of apparently unrelated concepts, you will have to ask Mr. Weinberg. I for one have not the faintest idea what a cellular, heart level is.
Ok, I'm fine with that. Moving right along...
If I'd been there two years ago, I probably would have made some kind of fool of myself griping about how universalizing male sexuality is the same kind (if not the same degree) of dehumanization as universalizing female sexuality. As much as you and a bunch of other folks all tried your best to extract something useful from that poison pill, no sane conversation can start that way.
Anyways, old, pointless topic.
New! pointful topic: what else do you have your eye on for this year?
To be fair to Joe Weinberg, I don't think it's clear from his screed there, but he was very much not talking about the toxic association of male sexuality with violence as an essentialized, universal biological artifact -- he was talking about it as common cultural programming, perfectly possible to fight against and overcome.
People were very irritated with his style of moderation and his insistence on his point of view, and that tended to overshadow the positive aspects of his work. Also the fact that the Wiscon crowd was the wrong audience -- we already knew everything he wanted to tell us, and wanted to move beyond it. I think, though, that if there was some value to his contribution, it was in his dogged insistence that things out there in the average american high schools and frat houses that he visits are as bad as he says they are.
This year -- sheesh, I haven't even looked yet. Way too swamped!
Is the Wiscon program schedule available for public viewing? I can't find it on the website.