I'm not going to type his full name here (because it turns out he is now googling himself and getting off on all the attention he's getting in the feminist blogosphere), but most of you already know about he-who-will-not-be-named, he who spent much time masquerading as an anti-porn activist, pro-feminist, and rape victim advocate and has now pled guilty to the unthinkable. I was away from the computer for two months, so I am hearing about this late.
Years ago, I quoted to Mr.Me something a guy in one of my Women's Studies classes had said. Mr.Me was surprised that there were any men in such a class and told me, "He's just there to get laid."
At the time, I was furious with Mr.Me. Now I realize he was guilty of nothing more than telling the depressing truth.
I attended the Stop Porn Culture conference six months ago in Austin. I can not adequately express how disgusted I am - both because of Payne's behavior and my own utter lack of suspicion. I guess I should have known that Mr.Me knows all about these things from a male perspective and that somebody like Payne indeed was up to no good.
During that three day conference, we viewed graphic slideshows showing how women are depicted and exploited in pornography and in advertising. We had discussions that were rather personal in nature, especially outside the conference room. We hung out together in the hallways, outside the building late at night before heading back to our hotels, and during lunch and rest breaks. We discussed things like rape and rape prevention, protecting children, women and body image, and we brainstormed about activism.
There were only - I'm pretty sure - four men present.
Now I find out that one of them had child pornography on his computer and had - I believe before the conference - been charged with assault for touching and photographing an intoxicated young woman he had been asked - as a college R.A. - to escort safely to her dorm room (being the pro-feminist, anti-porn rape crisis counselor and oh-so sensitive truthworthy dood that he was).
Recently, as he prepared to plead guilty, he emailed his sick pity-party confession to hundreds of feminist bloggers, like he's apparently expecting - hoping - to someday possibly be welcomed back into his old clique again. For the record, Payne, if you and I end up sitting around the same conference table again, one of us is gonna end up gettin' shown to the door.
Then it turns out that he's reading over all the comments about himself at all these feminist blogs, spending hours doing it like the self-obsessed ass he is.
Dude, you really make me sick.
For some reason, this makes me remember a Roseanne episode in which Jackie's boyfriend Fisher had beaten her. Roseanne tells him, "You know, I'm a pretty good judge of people, which is why I don't like none of 'em, but you really slipped beneath my radar. I liked you. And that really pisses me off."
I remember standing outside the conference building talking to a woman who, like me, was married to someone who had used pornography but had eventually realized it was wrong and given it up. Like me, she had for years been okay with pornography until she saw what it was doing in her own life and began to understand what it was doing in others' lives. I actually stood there and told her, "If I end up leaving my marriage, I will never again be involved with any man unless he is truly a feminist activist. I mean, he would have to really get it. He would have to be someone so committed that he would decide to attend a conference like this - you know, like the couple of guys who are here this weekend."
I am an idiot. Somebody just smack me.
Now, courtesy of Payne, I'm revising that night's statement. If I end up leaving my marriage, I will never again be romantically involved with any male person.
Even the members of dood nation who show up for anti-porn conferences aren't necessarily the real deal.
Even the guy I married wasn't necessarily the real deal (although he is doing some training with these issues, I don't trust how deep that really goes). He too has always been seen as oh-so sensitive and sweet by every woman he meets.
Individual members of privileged groups should never, ever be completely trusted by members of oppressed groups. Never - not even if they, like Payne, manage to talk a good game. Never.
And I say that as a white person too. I try my best when it comes to racism, but I, of course, always have the option of taking a break from that fight, of choosing not to fight if it's inconvenient for me at that moment. In other words, I am privileged, and because I am privileged, I can not, should not, be completely trusted as an ally.
I heard somewhere about a group of native American activists in Washington State who were mobiling around a particularly urgent issue and found that several white would-be allies were offering assistance and attending some organizing meetings. The original members of the group decided to tell the white attendees that if they really wanted to help, what they could do was provide free childcare so that 1) as many native Americans as possible could attend, 2) white allies could actually be involved, but by doing support work rather than leadership, and 3) native Americans would be in charge of their own activism.
Maybe this should have been the only role for someone like he-who-shall-not-be-named at a Stop Porn Culture conference. Instead of sitting at a conference table doing his oh-so sensitive pro-feminist male routine, convincing an idiot like me that he's the rare man who gets it (when am I gonna learn???), he should have only been allowed a support role, like making coffee and picking up conference room trash at the end of the day.
I had thought that having male allies against pornography was important, because, after all, when women make the case against pornography, we get called uptight bitches who just need a good fucking. Andrea Dworkin, in a speech to "men's movement" men said the following:
What's involved in doing something about all of this? The men's movement seems to stay stuck on two points. The first is that men don't really feel very good about themselves. How could you? The second is that men come to me or to other feminists and say: "What you're saying about men isn't true. It isn't true of me. I don't feel that way. I'm opposed to all of this."
And I say: don't tell me. Tell the pornographers. Tell the pimps. Tell the warmakers. Tell the rape apologists and the rape celebrationists and the pro-rape ideologues. Tell the novelists who think that rape is wonderful. Tell Larry Flynt. Tell Hugh Hefner. There's no point in telling me. I'm only a woman. There's nothing I can do about it. These men presume to speak for you. They are in the public arena saying that they represent you. If they don't, then you had better let them know.
Then there is the private world of misogyny: what you know about each other; what you say in private life; the exploitation that you see in the private sphere; the relationships called love, based on exploitation. It's not enough to find some traveling feminist on the road and go up to her and say: "Gee, I hate it."
Say it to your friends who are doing it. And there are streets out there on which you can say these things loud and dear, so as to affect the actual institutions that maintain these abuses. You don't like pornography? I wish I could believe it's true. I will believe it when I see you on the streets. I will believe it when I see an organized political opposition. I will believe it when pimps go out of business because there are no more male consumers.
You want to organize men. You don't have to search for issues. The issues are part of the fabric of your everyday lives.***
So, as Andrea said, it would, I knew, require men to convince men if they were to be convinced at all. As Andrea said, "I'm only a woman." And women in the patriarchy can't convince men ourselves - because we just get dismissed. No, I figured, we would need male allies in this fight.
But then look what happens when someone like a Payne does show up at conferences pretending to be an ally.
I don't know. Maybe they should attend if they want to and listen but not be allowed to speak - and this guy definitely did speak. Fucker.
I can't decide. I'm not even making any sense. I just know I'm pissed off because, as Roseanne put it, "You slipped right under my radar. I liked you, and that pisses me off."
Well, anti-porn conference attending doodz, as George Bush would say, "Fool me once, can't get fooled again."
***source: Take Back the Day: I Want a 24-Hour Truce During Which There is no Rape