“All men are rapists” was a slogan that came out of the pioneering days of the Women’s Movement (WM) of the late 60s. It was championed by the Radical Feminists in the WM and was also taken up by SCUM (the Society for Cutting Up Men – the most well known exponent being Valerie Solanis, the woman who shot Andy Wharhol). Debate at that time hinged around women who thought it was true (in one form or another) and were demanding that men confront this dark aspect of their nature and women who could not accept that it might be true, and had concerns about alienating the small but growing support liberal men were giving the WM.
The male response, was mostly denial, until some men began to look a little deeper. At that time, there were many men involved with women in the WM and we realised that it was not enough to just support our sisters, that we needed to be bit more proactive in addressing those issues they confronted us with – even the very difficult ones we denied. So, a Men Against Sexism movement was started, (it was called that here in theUKand I think in the States too). I attended two national conferences in ’71 and ’72. Two themes emerged in those conferences; the gays tried hard to convert the straights, and, those men involved in the growing humanistic psychotherapy movement showed us how we might look at some of the demands our sisters made, even the difficult ones.
Men’s Groups, emerged out of the Men Against Sexism movement. Some of the Men’s Groups become psychotherapy groups in all but name and the men in them began to make some very uncomfortable discoveries about the darker side of their nature. ‘Nice’ men are always a little too quick to dismiss their darker sides and we realised we did our sisters no favours by not delving deeper. We saw that it was not enough to look after the kids while the women were burning their bras in demonstrations, it was not enough to share the housework and clean the toilet (or always put the seat down!) We needed to really change. Bland liberal support could actually be harmful; we saw many men who claimed to be against sexism, until they had had a few beers or the football was on tv.
Would I rape a woman (or another man)? The scary answer is, I don’t know. Of course, I can profess my loving nature, what a good husband I have been and intend to continue being, what a doting father I am to my young son. I am sure I would not rape – would I? But I have looked deeply into my own heart and I do not like what I see there. The scary don’t know answer is in the context that we are all capable of anything. Between 1936 and 1945, 12 million civilians were murdered in Europe. The guards at Auschwitz were ordinary human beings. I repeat this so there can be no avoiding this truth. The guards at Auschwitz, at all the camps, were ordinary human beings. In the light of that appalling truth, can I be sure I would never rape? Is my soul so robust, that it can stand any test? What would I do, if my son was snatched from my arms?
Have you heard of the Singing Forest? During WW2 the Nazis had a forest where they had big hooks set in the trees, about 6 foot off the ground. Many Gays, Gypsies and political activists never made it to the concentration camps because they were eliminated more rapidly. Many were hung on these hooks and took a long time to die. An eyewitness survivor recalls, with a look of horror on his face I shall never forget, the screams went on and on and on. The Nazis who did this, called it the Singing Forest. . . . .
I mention these difficult issues because as the Deeper feelings emerge through Constancy, they are as likely to be dark as they are to be (hopefully) illuminating. Constancy involves looking at all of your feelings. . . . .
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