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The Myth of Warren Farrell: Farrell on Rape, Part One

farrellmyth

No book has had more influence over the Men’s Rights movement than Warren Farrell’s The Myth of Male Power. Published in 1993, in the heyday of the early 90s antifeminist backlash, it set the agenda for the Men’s Rights movement as it’s developed over the last two decades.  He’s the one who came up with the notions of “male disposability” and the “death professions.” He’s the one who got MRAs fixated on the issue of draft registration.

Indeed, so pervasive has his influence been that if you see an MRA making a dumb argument anywhere on the Internet, the chances are probably more than 50-50 that it originated in the pages of Farrell’s book. Despite its age, and its eccentricity, The Myth of Male Power is still the first book recommended to MRA newbies in the sidebar of the Men’s Rights subreddit, the most active MRA hangout online.

It’s a book that deserves a lot more attention than I have been giving it on this blog. Sure, I’ve written about Farrell’s strange and creepy notions about incest, as set forth in a notorious interview in Penthouse in the 1970s, and about his recent attempts to explain away these views. But I haven’t devoted any blog posts to his most influential work. I intend to rectify that now, with a series of posts on some of Farrell’s chief arguments and assertions.

I will start with several posts on Farrell’s views on rape, which has been the subject of much controversy of late. This part will deal with his general statements on rape and sexuality; another will explore in more detail his views on date rape (did he really describe it as “exciting?”); and still another will look at the vast assortment of things he has inappropriately compared to rape.

Pinning down what Farrell “really believes” about rape – and indeed, about almost anything– is difficult. Farrell’s arguments, such as they are, are slippery and evasive. Instead of setting forth a clear argument about rape, Farrell instead provides us with a series of jumbled metaphors and strange comparisons. Instead of trying to summarize them – many of them defy summary — let’s just go through them one by one.

Farrell supporters will likely suggest that these quotes are taken “out of context,” to which I can only say: Check his book to see for yourself. None of his troubling quotes are any less troubling, or for that matter any clearer, in context, and many don’t have much of a context. Farrell writes in a rambling, free-associational style, and many of the “arguments” he makes in the following quotes seem to come from out of the blue, and are never developed further (though some, as you will see, are referenced again in later quotes).

Page numbers given are from the 1993 hardcover edition of The Myth of Male Power.

All that out of the way, let’s jump right in:

Near the start of his book , Farrell sets the tone for what will come by suggesting that men suffer as much sexual trauma from women’s mixed signals as women do from rape:

Feminism has taught women to sue men for sexual harassment or date rape when men initiate with the wrong person or with the wrong timing; no one has taught men to sue women for sexual trauma for saying “yes,” then “no,” then “yes.” … Men [are] still expected to initiate, but now, if they [do] it badly, they could go to jail. (p. 16)

Here, he elaborates on the notion that rape is a matter of bad timing, of “tak[ing] risks too quickly.”

In the past, both sexes were anxious about sex and pregnancy. Now the pill minimizes her anxiety and condoms increase his. Now the pimple faced boy must still risk rejection while also overcoming his own fear of herpes and AIDS and reassuring her there is nothing to fear. He must still do the sexual risk-taking, but now he can be put in jail if he takes risks too quickly or be called a wimp if he doesn’t take them quickly enough . (p. 168)

Here, Farrell falls back on the old “rape is misunderstanding” canard, and somehow manages to compare sexual activity –- from kissing up to and including rape — to eating a bag of potato chips.

It is also possible for a woman to go back to a man’s room, tell him she doesn’t want to have intercourse, mean it, start kissing, have intercourse, and then wish she hadn’t in the morning. How? Kissing is like eating potato chips. Before we know it, we’ve gone further than we said we would. (p. 311)

Here, he seems to seriously suggest that juries could do a better job judging rape cases if they were sexually aroused.

The problem with every judgment of sexual behavior is that it is made by people who aren’t being stimulated as they are making the judgment. A jury that sees a woman in a sterile courtroom, asks her what she wanted, and then assumes that anything else she did was the responsibility of the man is insulting not only the woman but the power of sex. (p. 312)

And then he returns to the potato chip metaphor.

A man being sued after a woman has more sex than intended is like Lay’s being sued after someone has more potato chips than intended. In brief, date rape can be a crime, a misunderstanding, or buyer’s remorse. (p. 312)

Farrell repeatedly tries to absolve men of sexual wrongdoing by suggesting that they are literally intoxicated by female beauty.

Sexually, of course, the sexes aren’t equal. It is exactly a woman’s greater sexual power that often makes a man so fearful of being rejected by her that he buys himself drinks to reduce his fear. In essence, her sexual power often leads to him drinking; his sexual power rarely leads to her drinking. If anything is evidence of her power over him, it is his being expected to spend his money to buy her drinks without her reciprocating.  …

It is  men – far more than women – whose mental capacities are diminished when they are “under the influence” of a beautiful woman. (p. 320)

But Farrell thinks it’s “sexist” – against men – to put men in jail for “selling sex” to intoxicated women:

As long as society tells men to be the salespersons of sex, it is sexist for society to put only men in jail if they sell well. We don’t put other salespersons in jail for buying clients drinks and successfully transforming a “no” into a “maybe” into a “yes.” If the client makes a choice to drink too much and the “yes” turns out to be a bad decision, it is the client who gets fired, not the salesperson.  (p. 321)

We’ve only just begun to scratch the surface of Warren Farrell’s equally daft and disturbing views on sex and rape. Stay tuned.

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Leum
Leum
9 years ago

Derick: Supernatural, go! In case you need a reminder of recent female characters, Meg Masters, Charlie Bradbury, and Naomi are the majorish reocurring female characters this season. Oh, and you could count Sam’s ex-girlfriend, but I REALLU doubt you can use her to help your case. I love Supernatural, but it needs major Feminism 101 despite, get this, the fact that women are its target audience.

greendaywantsavatars
greendaywantsavatars
9 years ago

Huh.

I’ve been out nerded!!!! *aaauuugh*

Kittehserf
9 years ago

“Kitteh, can I come live with you? Pretty please? I don’t mind getting tea up my nose.”

Just make sure you bring your kitties!

Kittehserf
9 years ago

Fade – cue evil laughter from me! 😀

opheliamonarch
9 years ago

@Kitteh, Well, okay, but Solomon might out Greebo your baby.
He’s a tuxedo who we hand-reared and still loves a bottle, even though he is now officially too heavy for his adult cat carrier, he’s only just over a year old so he’s not full grown yet. Hand rearing made him and his sister scarlet weird but lovely.

serrana
9 years ago

I found it! Pell’s first appearance, courtesy of Alex’s link. http://manboobz.com/2012/04/07/im-giving-a-talk-at-northwestern-university-on-monday-topic-how-to-hate-women-and-have-terrible-sex/comment-page-3/#comment-143179

Be sure to read the next one about mature orgasms.

opheliamonarch
9 years ago

Anyway, off to bed, nighty night everyone, lovely talking. (Not you wanky Derick!)

Kittehserf
9 years ago

ophelia – ::melts::

He wouldn’t have any Greebo competition here now. Magnus was our only Greebo wannabe and he crossed over a few years back. Mads and Fribs are definitely not in the Greebo mould!

Say, you use Kindle, don’t you? Does it take non-Kindle ebooks?

greendaywantsavatars
greendaywantsavatars
9 years ago

Night, ophelia

I should be off to bed, it got late while I was goading the troll and looking at the resources…

Kittehserf
9 years ago

Niters ophelia, Fade!

freemage
9 years ago

Aww, I missed the new trollsock before his bedtime rolled around. Ah, well, I’ll just have to suffer on without being able to engage his sparkling wit and extensive knowledge of modern media. (Fiona from Burn Notice? Seriously? She gets damsel-in-distress duty at least once a season, and has never taken down Michael Weston during a spat without catching him off-guard.)

becausescience
becausescience
9 years ago

I get what derick was saying, he’s saying that the fact that there are ANY shows featuring women being intelligent or accomplished or independent is deeply upsetting to him because he is a sad, sad little man.

Kittehserf
9 years ago

Or “sad, sad little fourteen-year-old” if he’s Pell, as I suspect he is.

becausescience
becausescience
9 years ago

Game show idea! A game show called “Troll, Satire, or MRA?”

Contestants are presented with a series of bizarre statements, and they have to determine whether the statement is someone trolling, a piece of satire, or an actual thing that MRA’s believe in.

Prizes include lifetime supply of scented candles and hard chairs.

serrana
9 years ago

Replace the hard chairs with POÄNG chairs from Ikea, and I’m in!

LeShiggedyDiggedy
LeShiggedyDiggedy
9 years ago

“The Myth of Male Power” is literally the “Mein Kampf” of MRAs.

Argenti Aertheri
Argenti Aertheri
9 years ago

“Is it at all clear what’s happening? Because I’m concerned you have to scroll down to the author comments to figure it out.”

Yeah, it needs the comment, but definitely causes that “oh gods I missed that?!” on the second read. And for Owly bio just use the Big Book of Learnin’?

archaeoholmes
archaeoholmes
9 years ago

@becausescience That is actually a top game show idea.

Fibinachi
9 years ago

[ Theme music: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LPG_VDGwj6k ]

Welcome to another round of, youuuu’ve guessed it, Troll! Satire! Or MRA?

Welcome to tonight’s contenstants, fresh in from the wide fields of the internet! Now, dear viewer, you’ve gooootttaaa pick a statement then, oh then the fun begins, you see, you’ve gotta guess if it’s a troll? A satirical statement or…

[Crowd chants]

M-R-A?

[Large fireworks, tuba sounds]

Okay, the first round is the easy round! You tell me:

This is why it is such a disaster to say “never hit women”…..it destroys the womans ability to bond closely with the man via a good spanking. It destroys her ability to feel the security of protector and provider….something she needs…indeed….it is so insane now they call that “domestic violence” and the man can go to jail for doing what the woman needs to be done for her.”

Oh? Guessed it yet? Take your time, we will be waiting. In the mean time, a word from our sponsors at Lysol:

“Do you feel your man….”

Up next is a statement fresh from the commentaries: Is this… a troll? A satire? Or an MRA?

Having shagged at least 300 females in my life I can attest to the fact that the female never really has this sort of orgasm until the man first comes and then she will come about 10 seconds later. Clitoral orgasms are for lesbians and little girls playing with themselves are just a reaction to irritation like getting some dust into your nose and sneezing.

Oh, that’s a good one – Freud is alive and well on the Internet. I see you’re confused, dear reader, for what man can think like that in todays age? Well, the answer, we’re afraid, is many men!

Ah, but these two were EASY pickings! Easy to unmask, easy to guess. The fun begins now, dear reader:

You’ve gotta guess! From one of three? Which is the troll? Which is the MRA? And which is the satire? Take your pick and you might win a years supply of Segregation Tape! For holding back the uncouth womanly hordes!
One:

he truth is that interesting women needs youth, big boobs, long legs, long hair, and an hourglass figure to be interesting to men. The more women go away from this, the less interesting they become to men. This is why women when inevitably age, they become more and more invisible to men. It is just Nature at work

Two:

It is more than merely cultural, more than social, it is even biological. This matriarchy has dominated even nature here, controlled every last aspect, even the dirt, even the germs, all of the animals, and certainly, all of the men.

Three:

Alpha children wear grey. They work much harder than we do, because they’re so frightfully clever. I’m really awfully glad I’m a Beta, because I don’t work so hard. And then we are much better than the Gammas and Deltas. Gammas are stupid. They all wear green, and Delta children wear khaki. Oh no, I don’t want to play with Delta children. And Epsilons are still worse. They’re too stupid to be able …”

Which of these are from a troll and which are satire? And oh, oh tell me, dear reader, which one is culled straight from an MRA talking point?

You make the right choice and you might win a brand new caaaaaar! And by car I mean automobile from the 19th century, where all our sensibilities are drawn from!

And the lightning roooound? WHICH MRA SAID THE FOLLOWING?

His mind slid away into the labyrinthine world of doublethink. To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them, to use logic against logic, to repudiate morality while laying claim to it, to believe that democracy was impossible and that the Party was the guardian of democracy, to forget, whatever it was necessary to forget, then to draw it back into memory again at the moment when it was needed, and then promptly to forget it again, and above all, to apply the same process to the process itself — that was the ultimate subtlety; consciously to induce unconsciousness, and then, once again, to become unconscious of the act of hypnosis you had just performed. Even to understand the word ‘doublethink’ involved the use of doublethink.

Aaliyah
9 years ago

Oh dear, I just finished writing a speech that I only had a day to write for various reasons. It’s a persuasive speech for my public speaking class about discrimination against trans people.

I hope I don’t cry or something in my speech because it’s kind of emotional. X_X Also, if my laptop is nice to me tomorrow, I’ll share a recording if anyone is curious about watching it.

Bee
Bee
9 years ago

Catwoman, unfortunately (and I mean that from the bottom of my heart), I was responding to you just before I stepped into a final exam, which explains my delayed response now as well as my previous misunderstanding of what you said.

It is not the same situation.It is a similar scenario.It would be the exact same situation only if besides the drunk part people had the same attitudes, there was the same kind of consent. basically everything else the same.

I agree. In a scenario where you are saying “I was drunk/plastered and had consensual sex, and I’m fine with that,” I cannot and would not say that you were raped. I’ve done the same thing multiple times, and I don’t think I was raped. Having sat through multiple interview sessions with rape victims, I don’t think the police would believe that this was rape, and I don’t see any reason why any person who had experienced this would claim they were raped.

I apologize for making it seem like I believed the opposite in my response. I was responding in haste and was going off of my memory of what you had written.

That all said, I really don’t understand what your point has been, unless you so severely misunderstand what actual rape cases are like that you think people are running around claiming that any person who has consensual sex while drunk has been raped, and any person who has consensual sex with a drunk person is a rapist. To be clear: No one claims this. Least of all legal forums. It sounds like you’ve bought into the same traditional misconceptions about rape that many MRAs — and rapists — trade on, and that is why what you’re saying annoys me.

katz
9 years ago

So for those following along at home (I feel like I can totally say that because this blog has so many lurkers), you’ll observe that a troll like Derick is fun to poke but pointless to actually engage on any level, because, as his examples demonstrate, he considers any female character with any kind of positive trait to be damaging to men.

Notice that he doesn’t even try to make any kind of case that the character actually does anything that harms men (in-story or out), nor that women get a disproportionate number of these roles. He just says “she’s a hero” or “she’s smart” or “she’s a powerful villain” and leaves the tacit assumption that it’s unfair for a woman, instead of a man, to have any kind of positive role in any story.

He is a textbook example of an entitled dude who is so unquestioningly used to having everything that he feels slighted when anyone else gets anything. He honestly thinks it’s fair and right for every media role–but especially heroic, cool, powerful, smart, and/or likeable roles–to go to guys like him, except for quiet, demure, sexy women who can please his boner without getting in the way.

And there’s no point in engaging with that. If he didn’t grow out of the “Everything is mine and if anyone else gets something that’s NOT FAIR” mindset as a toddler, nothing we say is going to sway him.

neuroticbeagle
9 years ago

@Fibinachi – What are the answers? The people at home need to know! (Also, my dog is dying to know, despite her snoring loudly.)

CassandraSays
CassandraSays
9 years ago

nuance has different meanings if we talk about variety of situation i think you agree with me?

What fresh hell of poor sentence structure and even poorer logic is this?

khantron
khantron
9 years ago

As someone watching at home, that is an excellent recap katz.

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