Warren Farrell on Unemployment, Salesmanship, and Other Things That Are Like Rape, Supposedly

farrelfilmgrain

Warren Farrell: “We are still requiring men to be the sexual salespersons but now defining them as rapists when they do it well.”

Warren Farrell, as a sort of “elder statesman” of the Men’s Rights movement, may have gained a sort of weird respectability simply by being around as long as he has, and because he’s published books with major publishers. But the myth of Farrell’s intellectual respectability shatters pretty quickly once one takes a good, honest, and unbiased look at what he has actually written, in The Myth of Male Power and elsewhere.

We’ve already taken a look at some of the strange and troubling things he wrote about rape in that book. Farrell is also fond of rape as a metaphor, and regularly compares things that men endure to rape, as a way of bolstering his overall thesis that it is men, not women, who are the “disposable sex,” and who truly suffer.

Here are some of the things that Farrell argues are equivalent to rape:

Draft registration. In Farrell’s view, the fact that young men are required to sign what is in essence a meaningless piece of paper is a kind of mass rape of men.

How, exactly? Well, you see, young men who refuse to register for the draft when they turn 18 can be  barred from government jobs and can – in theory at least – face a stiff fine and prison time. Never mind that most young men sign without fear, because the draft is about as likely to return to fashion as raccoon coats. Farrell imagines what might hypothetically happen if they don’t:

Once in prison, your son’s nubile, young body combined with his reputation for not fighting makes him a perfect candidate for homosexual rape and, therefore, AIDS. In brief, he is subject to being killed. …

Do male-only draft registration and combat requirements amount, then, to the legalized rape of men? Yes. (p. 135, Myth of Male Power, 1993 hardcover edition)

Farrell offers no evidence that any of this ever actually happened to anyone who refused to register for the draft since it was reinstated in 1980, but in his mind, evidently, the hypothetical rape of men is as terrible an injustice as the real rape of women.

Unemployment: In Farrell’s view, unemployment – at least for men – is essentially the same as rape.

Many women report that rape leaves them feeling humiliated, violated helpless, angry, guilty, self blaming, depressive, lower in self-esteem, and suicidal. Their vulnerability leaves them feeling powerless, as if the whole world were  an elephant and they are an ant. Similarly, men who are fired or experience any of “the three unemployment’s – underemployment, unemployment, and the fear of unemployment” – often feel humiliated, violated, helpless, angry, guilty, self blaming, depressive, lower in self-esteem, and suicidal.their vulnerability leaves them feeling powerless, as if the whole world were an elephant and they are an ant. (p. 173)

Oh, it gets worse:

Unemployment deprives men of that which has given many men the respect and love of women; rape violates the body that has given many women the appreciation and love of men. Few men feel they chose unemployment, just as few women feel they chose to be raped. (p. 173)

Huh. Don’t women get fired, too? And aren’t some men raped? Well, sure, but women who lose their jobs don’t really count.

Of course, unemployment affects women and rape also affects men. But the unemployed man is the subject of ridicule. … Despite the similarity between the unemployment of men and the rape of women, no one would dare joke about the worthlessness of a raped woman.” (p. 173)

Well, I guess he hadn’t met Paul Elam. Or Ferdinand Bardamu Matt Forney. Or this dude. Or about fifty million other examples I could dig up if I felt it was worth it.

Indeed, it’s so extremely unlikely that Farrell has never run across someone joking about rape victims that I can only assume that either he has some sort of short-term memory problem akin to Leonard in Memento or he’s lying.

While comparing draft registration and unemployment with rape in order to suggest how much men suffer, Farrell also compares rape with trivial or harmless things in a way that minimizes the suffering of female rape victims:

For example, Farrell compares rape with successful salesmanship:

We are still requiring men to be the sexual salespersons but now defining them as rapists when they do it well. (p. 316)

He also compares rape laws with traffic signs.

Laws with broad definitions of rape are like laws making fifty-five-miles-per-hour speed limits for men and no speed limits for women. (p. 318)

More on Farrell to come.

NOTE: A draft version of this went up accidentally earlier; I fixed a few things in it, none of them substantive.

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Posted on May 5, 2013, in drama kings, imaginary oppression, irony alert, lying liars, misogyny, MRA, oppressed men, paul elam, playing the victim, rape, rape culture, rape jokes, victim blaming, warren farrell and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 93 Comments.

  1. Sheesh. I thought I knew what an asshole was…I was wrong.

  2. If I actually want to have sex with someone no convincing is required. If I don’t want to have sex with someone their trying to convince me to do so is going to either annoy or scare me, depending on how prone to violence they seem.

    Notice that there is no “I am now happily convinced!” in this scenario.

    Well… I can think of times in my life when I wasn’t initially attracted to someone who started flirting with me, but they did it in a charming and funny way that made me change my mind, and I ended up happily having sex with the person.

    Obviously the above is very different from what a salesperson does, since the salesperson would more likely try to convince me to by something by bringing up arguments like “this product would totally be really useful to you” or “if you don’t take this order it might be a long time until you find as profitable a deal again”. If someone tried to come up with analogous ARGUMENTS as to why I ought to sleep with him, he would just be some kind of really creepy Nice Guy(TM) or something. But still, stretching Farrell’s weird sales-person analogy a bit, you might say that these people managed to “sell” themselves to me.

    Only this has NOTHING to do with rape, and I seriously doubt any woman has every run to the police because she was pondering the events of the night before and realized that “wait a minute… I wasn’t attracted to him at the beginning of the evening… and later in that evening I wanted to have sex with him…”. Like how would that be a reason for accusing someone of rape?

  3. Can’t decide whether those rape equivocations were the most intellectually lazy arguments I’ve ever read or the most brilliant mental gymnastics this side of Antonin Scalia. Woof.

  4. So, wait a second – this shows another problem!!!

    (hey, he wants to come up with inaccurate comparisons, I get to do it, too)

    There are benefits that the unemployed get – such as unemployment insurance. And, due to the recession, there are some other places that are helping out people who haven’t been able to find a job in a long time.

    BUT (world reversal begins now) – since a man being unemployed is exactly like a girl/woman being raped – WHAT ABOUT ALL THE FALSE UNEMPLOYMENT CLAIMS!!!!!

    We all know that men lie all the time about being unemployed, just so they can run to their daddy government and get these benefits, and they weren’t ever unemployed at all – they’re all actually CEOs of companies, raking in millions of dollars, but they’re lazy, shiftless and want to mooch off of hard-working women. Almost all of these men claiming unemployment aren’t actually unemployed (cite a bogus study here), they’re just faking it, and as soon as one of them goes in to file a claim, all he has to do is say the words “I’m unemployed” and immediately the evil government takes a hard-working woman and forces her to give up all her free time, and spend 24/7 at her job in order to support him while he goes off to eat bon bons all day.

    The horror! The horror! We must concentrate on stopping this scourge of false male unemployment claims!!

    (end of sarcasm)

  5. once one takes a good, honest, and unbiased look at what he has actually written

    Hahahahahahahahaha…..

    Seriously now …. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

  6. Just catching up here, but LBT, I just want to remind you that you are awesome people regardless of your origin. Of course you are going to feel devastated after finding out something like that, but I hope you won’t feel too much like you guys shouldn’t exist or anything. Have a bucket of puppies.

  7. If someone tried to come up with analogous ARGUMENTS as to why I ought to sleep with him, he would just be some kind of really creepy Nice Guy(TM) or something.

    This, so much.

  8. @pemra

    “About the idea of rape jokes as bete noire… I seem to recall that this was far more accurate when Farrell published his book. I think our culture has been somewhat vulgarized through the Internet and other factors.”

    Citation needed.

  9. BritterSweet

    I’m laaaate! So I’m not sure if someone already pointed this out.

    If he wants so badly for everyone to feel sorry for men by comparing their troubles to rape, then shouldn’t he at least actually acknowledge how horrible rape is, rather than trivialize it by comparing it to sales?

  10. LBT – seconding what katz said.

  11. LBT – I don’t comment here much, but I am a fan of your comic, and as someone who has had a rough year myself… just want to say I’m rooting for you all. Hang in there.

  12. RE: seventhguest

    Thanks, but fortunately (?) I think I have my disability apps as much in hand as I can. I’ve got the lawyer, the paperwork is pretty well together, and things seem to be progressing apace. It’s just that unfortunately, that pace means it’s still likely to be a year until I have good odds. Fortunately, everything fell apart in a pretty short amount of time, and I had good documentation.

    There is a state cash assistance that I’ll be going on again soon, which won’t allow me to afford a rent but will at least keep me going otherwise. So, as big a bummer as it is, I feel I have it as together as can be expected. (In this case, being a dissociative is definitely saving my ass; it allows me to get those awful letters, pound through them and hastily make an appeal, without completely falling apart–though there was that one time I somehow thought I’d gotten a rejection letter and hadn’t. Huzzah, memory distortions!)

    RE: katz, Kittehserf, and Tracy

    Thanks guys. I admit it, a lot of how I’m surviving all this is remembering that even if I’m disabled, I’m still useful to people and am still worth hanging around. As someone who has hung my entire self-worth from ‘doing,’ being told I can not do has been really devastating. However, I’ve found that even if I can’t do what I used to, I can still be a positive force in the world, and I’m determined to do that, regardless of what else happens.

  13. “Once in prison, your son’s nubile, young body combined with his reputation for not fighting makes him a perfect candidate for homosexual rape and, therefore, AIDS.”

    Well that wasn’t homophobic or anything!

    But I’d be careful about judging the likelihood of ugly clothing coming back into fashion what with hipsters and all.

    As for the subject of convincing women to have sex with you, really, I could only really be convinced NOT to have sex with someone. I’m either into you sexually or I’m not, and from there circumstances arise that make me choose not to go through with it (I’m in a relationship, you’re in a relationship, you don’t want to, I’m intimidated to initiate, I’m on my period, you turn out to be an ass, etc). This whole idea that you can turn my desire not to have sex with you into a desire to have sex with you is ridiculous. You can really only turn me off.

  14. @Jessay – “This whole idea that you can turn my desire not to have sex with you into a desire to have sex with you is ridiculous. You can really only turn me off.”

    Yeah, the only circumstances I can imagine for myself where persuasion would come in would be with Mr K, and in a “What, here? Now?” [short pause] “Hey, we’ve time, why not!” sense. The situation, not his person, would be the only cause for hesitation, whereas no one else could ever persuade me to engage sexually with zir person.*

    *I’ve just had a momentary infatuation with using the old sense of “person” to mean “body” – it fits how I’m thinking of this very well. :)

  15. CassandraSays

    That seems to be what causes a lot of the troll ragesplosions, that moment where they’re forced to confront the fact that there just isn’t any way to create attraction in a woman who isn’t feeling any. That’s when the screeching about hypergamy and tingles kicks in.

  16. Does hypergamy count if you’ve never had so much as a centime from your king and have in fact spent a lot of money ‘cos of him? :P

  17. CassandraSays

    Hypergamy seems to be one of those trollish words that can be adapted to mean whatever is most expedient.

  18. Speaking of which, I loved that discussion of the languages of Troll and Cat upthread (whichever thread it was).

  19. Okay, I’d best limp off to bed. 10.15 here. Niters!

  20. Morning…my face is numb post-fillings, and it’s been nearly long enough that I could drink, but I’m not feeling my odds of wearing coffee.

    Back on topic!

    LBT — I know you meant doing as in work work, but your comics at whatnot are still doing things that matter to other people (seriously, you taught me more about multiplicity than my psych profs ever did)

    *whines* half my face is numb!!

  21. Hey Argenti, glad the dentist trip’s all done. Numb face = better’n if it wasn’t numb, methinks.

  22. I see that Warren Farrell is interviewed in Bloomberg BusinessWeek’s current cover story called “Lean Out.” I haven’t read the article and the presence of Warren Farrell in it makes me not really want to, but I figured David and others here might find this mainstream media coverage of him of note.

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