Last week this came out:
“Claudia Gadelha and Bethe Correia want fans to stop sending d*ck pics.” For those who have no idea who these ladies are, they are UFC fighters. In the article, they spoke out against both genuine fan and random pervs behaving inappropriately towards them both in public and on cyberspace:
“Once, close to my house, a man on a motorcycle showed me his genitals and drove away. I’ve been through complicated situations. Online, though, they are braver. I hope it doesn’t go beyond that. I know how to defend myself and I would have to use it. Maybe break an arm or choke someone out.”
The vast majority of the people I know, of all genders, reacted with a mixture of disgust and confusion. Why in the name of all that is holy would anyone engage in offensive behaviour towards women who’re capable of pounding them into next week? Why would they do so when this behaviour is notoriously anti-useful at achieving any kind of closeness with the vast majority of women? I’ve yet to meet a woman who, when receiving an unsolicited dick pic, was so impressed that she just had to meet the owner of the trousersnake in question. I’m sure those women exist, but they are definitely not in the majority. And if your dick is so special, so different from the average that you feel it stands out from the norm… do you seriously think it’s a good thing? Shouldn’t you be showing that picture to a urologist?
So we were all running around shaking heads, going “what the hell?!”… and then a bright spark by the name of Brad entered our metaphorical room, and graced us with this comment:
“(Sending unsolicited dick pics) is definitely a little bit worse than jumping on the offense against other men for things they do that women don’t like but also that don’t affect you at all. I don’t get the thought process. Has to be, “this will make them feel like I’m on their side, soon they be melting for my white-knightness.” Otherwise it’s like being white and getting offended on behalf of Asians for a joke you heard from another white person.”
This is such a gem, I can’t just ignore it. In fact, it deserves special treatment. I’m going to analyse it first, and then fisk it.
Now, I’ve yet to meet a self-labelled “white knight” who wasn’t a creep with a strategy. Their formidable creepiness meant that any woman with any level of personal resources would either run away from them as fast as her legs would carry her, or react to them as one would upon finding a putrefying, tentacled spider taking a poop on one’s pillow. This resulted in said creepknights being tolerated almost solely by women who were lacking in resources. This may have led the creepknights to believe that women, as a group, are fragile petals who need and welcome protection (it’s a chicken-and-egg game: what came first, the terrible social skills or the wonky social circle?). More importantly, it led them to think that said women’s cockpits would/should/could become accessible to them as a “thank you” after the performance of said protective favours. (Don’t trouble yourself with sending a “thank you” card, love: just gift wrap your vagina.)
How bad this whole thing is depends entirely on whom you’re asking. I think it’s sketchy as hell, but then again I don’t use it. I consider exchanges of goods or services for sex as prostitution, regardless of how they’re packaged, and while I have nothing whatsoever against the practice, it isn’t something I do or I am keen to do. I know plenty of ladies who think otherwise, and that’s perfectly fine with me. However, I still take a pretty dim view of people who are 1. willing to exploit people’s weakness or desperation in order to get them to prostitute themselves and 2. wanting a medal for it afterwards.
I don’t think there’s anything particularly honourable in protecting those in need for protection, regardless of their gender, age, race, etc. You do it because it’s the right thing to do. (And, in my head, it’s the right thing to do because it’s the right thing to do, which puts it firmly in the “belief” category for me. Mea culpa.) Sometimes that drive may push some individuals into doing something heroic, and that heroism should be praised. But the basic drive itself… Nah. There’s a difference between picking up a bag of abandoned kittens from a dumpster and taking them to the nearest animal shelter, and running into a burning house to rescue said kittens, or spending several weeks hand-feeding them and trying to find them homes. Some things you just do, without asking for or expecting a bloody medal. That’s my bias, and I’m not intending to give it up any time soon.
If you think there’s something special about what amounts to basic human decency, I think there’s something wrong with you. And if you only do the right thing with an eye to a reward, then you’re nothing but a loan shark. That classes you as a predator, not a hero.
(Incidentally, I found much the same issue to apply to banner-waving Male Feminists – and, before anyone starts yelling at me, that’s definitely a generational and socioeconomic issue. I grew up in a time and place where it was normal to believe in equal rights and responsibilities regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, etc. That belief was just there, same as believing in gravity. Those in my peer group who feel the need to make a huge fuss about the fact that they are not sexist often have an incredibly awkward relationship with the opposite sex that they are actively trying to overcome. They’re often nowhere near as non-sexist as they claim, and they want a prize for any non-sexism they display. Because, to them not being sexist is a big deal, rather than the norm. I find them incredibly hard work.)
So, yes, I’m with Brad in being skeptical of white-knightism. However, there’s a lot more to his comment. I think he’s absolutely accurate in his comparison. Being a man standing up to other men who send unsolicited dick pictures is “like being white and getting offended on behalf of Asians for a joke you heard from another white person.” It can show in the same way that you’re capable of empathy; that problems that don’t affect you directly still matter to you, because you understand that they matter to other people. It can show that you’re willing to stand up for your beliefs even when the company you are keeping doesn’t support them. Hell, it can quite simply show that you actually know and love some of the affected people; that you might not care much for them as a group, but you understand the potential impact of certain activity on certain individuals whom you care about, and that’s enough to motivate you.
It can also be infinitely more selfish. It can show that you’re bright enough to understand that, if you’re a man interested in women, all men who mistreat women are pissing in your pool. Because if some girl has just deleted 9 inappropriate messages from her inbox, the tenth message asking her politely out for a drink may not be as well received as it could have been otherwise.
So, what does this say about Brad? To me, it says that none of the above apply. It says that he lacks the empathy to care for things that don’t affect him personally. That he doesn’t believe that there’s anything implicitly wrong in sexual harassment (or racism). That he doesn’t have any women in his life he feels a basic urge to look after. That he’s dumb enough to be oblivious to the impact sexual misconduct has on the dating game as a whole. Moreover, it says (literally – he comes right out and says it) that the only motivation he can think of for other men demonstrating a care for women is the hope of being rewarded with sex for their efforts. That tells me a lot about what motivates him.
And that’s why the only way I can fisk his comment is thusly:
My name is Brad, and I am only moved to be decent towards women when there’s a chance of getting laid.
And here’s me hoping he doesn’t have any daughters.