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)
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.