“It’s just socialization…”

I used to believe that male violence was merely a social phenomenon.  Like all things radical in thought, it took me awhile to come around to.  It couldn’t be true.  I’d known men who were sweet!  It was just an excuse for their behavior.  We had to hold them accountable!  Like all the comforting lies I’d told myself before about plain truths I would repeat these mantras, scoff in incredulity and refuse to see what was right in front of my eyes.  This changed over time.  I’m not really sure what the “click” was that brought me around to understanding that there was something biologically different about men.  Something that made them hunger for the degradation of life.  Something that made them delight in necrophilic destruction.

Coming to radical feminism is a process.  There is a process of deconstruction, of unlearning that has to take place.  Andrea Dworkin wrote that feminism requires precisely what patriarchy destroys in women.  Thus in order to begin the process of coming to feminism we stumble like babies beginning to walk.  Like taking the training wheels off of our bikes for the first time the process takes time for most women and also means a great deal of hardship.  I too cried over the male friends I lost.  I am slightly bemused at how pathetic that was at this time from this place I see now just what was lost was nothing more than parasites.

When I began to see the world in new eyes again everything shifted.  I would liken the experience to how when a person begins to meditate everything in their life gets worse.  My life got worse as I began to lift the veil.  I began having nightmares, visions.  I attracted all kinds of horrible patriarchal people (male and female) into my life that tortured me.  My health, or at least my illusion of health was stripped bare from my body and I was left crippled.  Literally.  I have lost most of my physical strength and struggle to walk now.

I began to lose women who were initially supportive of my journeying into radical thought.  I was going too far.  I was a bad feminist.  I was judgey.  Basically I was doing what they were unwilling to do.  Give up the addiction to men.  Live a life not based around getting men to change.  I didn’t say these things.  I didn’t even really think these things.  I was just going in the direction of what felt right.  They didn’t need to be said and it wouldn’t have mattered because where they were at they weren’t able to really tear off the veil and see the reality I was beginning to be immersed in.

Anyway somewhere along the way I realized I had to stop lying to myself about the male tendency towards oppressing women being merely a social phenomenon.  Its not as if what are called “essentialist” texts are widely available.  Its funny that that is the case when it is the plain obvious truth.  It doesn’t make money by selling women snake-oil and fairy tales though so what publisher is going to print it? 

This is all really just backdrop about where I’m at and coming from.  I understand if women aren’t there yet but I have faith that given enough honesty and soul searching they will be.  What I’m about to talk about now is very shocking and will probably hurt some of the more tender hearts in my reading audience.

My aunt, who loves animals, posted a petition on her facebook last week calling for the closure of orangutan brothels.  I don’t even recommend reading all of what is contained in the information about these brothels.  Its too disturbing.  What is clear to me is that no man has been socialized to rape animals yet they do with frequency.  Its considered a real taboo yet animal rescues are continually met with cases of men who infect dogs with venereal diseases and destroy their vaginas with continued rape.  Men also rape infants, small children and we supposedly look down on that as well.  Yet with frequency men are violating animals and children as well as adult women.  I can see so often that women are accustomed to not caring enough about themselves to see the danger in men and get away from it but I’m hoping that those of you in my audience who care about animals will at least admit there has been no great social engineering on the part of patriarchy to encourage men to rape animals.  If it is not socialization then that causes this phenomenon it is something else.  I argue that it is an inherent urge of men to stick their dicks into anything they can and all the “socialization” in the world and “raising our sons to be different” will not ebb the tide of men sticking their dicks into whatever animal, child or woman they can.

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24 responses to ““It’s just socialization…”

  1. You make a valid point only if it can be assumed that the abuse of human beings can be socialized behavior but the abuse of animals cannot be. Or that the two aren’t intrinsically linked based on the power dynamics involved, and for the abuser they aren’t essentially one in the same thing, serving the same purpose. You will find that the behavior of people who abuse animals (whatever the circumstance) correlates well with their behavior towards people who they consider inferior to them in some way.

    Neither “grand social engineering” nor biological essentialism is necessary for human being to oppress one another and other living things, only power, whether it be social, economic, physical or whatever. With the concept of male supremacy being a mainstay of this culture, all men within it are conditioned to be entitled. Whether or not this socialization is carried to it’s extremes by people who are depraved through some kind of biological imperative can certainly be debated, but the attitudes that manifest this are basically social. Hence, you still must rectify your theory with the reality of men who don’t “stick their dicks into anything”, nor feel the need to.

    • My thoughts exactly. While men may not be directly socialized to rape or abuse animals, that sort of violence is directly linked to the general socialization of men to be the powerful, dominant group in society that is, like you said, “entitled.”

      • I think it is quite valid to question the assumption, or ‘excuse’, that says that ‘it’s just socialization’ as the author did. It goes further than a question of holding power. Do we seriously think that if women held the same power as men, they would have acted as vile as they do? I tend to think that if we lived in a female-dominated world, there would be no child going hungry (unless for exceptionnal circumstances). I reject the notion that men do what they do on the basis that power corrupts only and that if positions between men and women were changed, the results would be the same. Would women treat men, children and animals, as Deb described below? Of course socialization renders things worse and this is why patriarchy is the worst thing for humanity, life and earth.

    • “Neither “grand social engineering” nor biological essentialism is necessary for human being to oppress one another and other living things, only power, whether it be social, economic, physical or whatever.”

      Sorry, but some groups of men have more “power” against other groups of men, and yet that latter group doesn’t face the sexualized nature of women’s oppression. “Power” is an insufficient explanation for men’s specific behaviour towards women, and it doesn’t explain where this desire for power comes from anyway. However, biological essentialism is SUFFICIENT to explain why men desire this power over us (or power at all), and why it manifests the way it does. And hate to tell you, but there’s a lot of evidence for this predisposition of theirs for violence, death, and rape.

      “Whether or not this socialization is carried to it’s extremes by people who are depraved through some kind of biological imperative can certainly be debated, but the attitudes that manifest this are basically social.”

      LOL, and your proof? Saying something doesn’t just make it true, sorry. And as Terri mentions, certain issues, like child and animal rape, are looked down upon, so why hasn’t this socialization had any effect on the most recent generations of men? As you say yourself: “You will find that the behavior of people who abuse animals (whatever the circumstance) correlates well with their behavior towards people who they consider inferior to them in some way.” Yeah, no kidding.

      “Hence, you still must rectify your theory with the reality of men who don’t “stick their dicks into anything”, nor feel the need to.”

      The argument of biological essentialism doesn’t necessitate that ALL men want to rape babies and animals, so the theory wouldn’t need rectifying. She’s just citing it as another one of men’s depravities, one which is largely VERY socially unacceptable, and yet constant. Plus, porn is going to allow men to satisfy their urge to stick their dicks in creatures or beings in which it is otherwise not socially acceptable to do, by masturbating to other men doing it or filming it. And I’m pretty sure this is a more sizable group of men than society lets on. As for men who “don’t feel the need to”? Well, what man really would feel the need, when he is ensured constant access to PIV? It’s legal, and a lot less risky.

      I could say more, because this comment is a gas-lighting mess, but I think this reply is long enough.

    • So then we are back to the Shroedinger’s rapist dilemma in which women are expected to be able to tell the difference between a man who rapes animals in private and one that does not.

      • I agree there are inherent differences between men and women which may influence some of their perceptions and priorities, this in itself may make men more prone to sexual violence, but probably no more than poverty makes someone more prone to petty crime. It’s the social order that makes this kind of oppression so pervasive. The parallels to this scenario are endless. But say you find it more satisfying to assume that all men rape animals or are genetically disposed to crave brutality and destruction, then I really can’t stop you.

      • That wasn’t what I said at all. I’ve made the claim that it is not socialization or “power arrangements” that cause men to visit orangutan brothels.

        The very idea that it is anything but an innate drive is absurd.

        Not all men need to do xyz for women to suspect them of doing xyz. Shroedinger’s rapist again.

  2. Reblogged this on and commented:
    So much of this is good I do not know what to quote as my favorite sentence, so just check it out. Great work Terri.

  3. This is great. Thanks for saying it. Since we are such a small number of voices, we’ll have to remember to talk about it, otherwise no one will. Glad to see another woman covering this issue.

  4. You my dear sister are speaking the words of my journey also. Thank you for speaking loudly what must be said, over and over and over. As a woman who was married for 30 years to a sexually abusive man, I remember blaming all his addiction to porn, then making me do what he saw (and it was sick and demented) on Satan (I was at that time emeshed in the Christian tradition (no longer there thank Goddess!), I took all the responsibility off of him and put on some outside source; thinking, “could I, the outspoken feminist, really have picked a man such as this?” yes, I did, and stay I did until that day I packed up my stuff and walked out the door. To this day, I see all men like you do: “having to stick their dicks into anything.” I was also a child abuse social worker for 33 years and never understood how a man could put his dick in a 6 month old baby and then beat the baby for crying. It is a sickening world and it is caused by men and the women who continue to side with them. I too have lost friends and family over my outspoken radical feminism and my pagan path. I stand with you sister and with all my sisters! We will overcome! love and hugs!

  5. and I did not know about the animal brothels. I am sickened by this but not surprised.

  6. Hi Terri, you said, “Anyway somewhere along the way I realized I had to stop lying to myself about the male tendency towards oppressing women being merely a social phenomenon. Its not as if what are called “essentialist” texts are widely available. Its funny that that is the case when it is the plain obvious truth.”

    Yes. Thank you for saying this simply and clearly. Radfems must be reality-based. “It’s all socialization” is a political statement. It has had certain political advantages, but not enough I would say to override reality. By stating the manifest fact, we can deal with the political problems cleanly and begin to really do something about with the fact. Essentialism does NOT mean unchangeability or inevitability. It does NOT mean sexual violence is 100% biological; social mores have built up around it which may be changed. It does NOT mean we cannot find solutions that strictly control male sexual violence. It makes attempts to do so much more likely to be effective.

  7. Fantastic and true. Thank you for this. If all women let themselves know this and acted accordingly, patriarchy would be over since men can’t continue for long without women.

    A friend just mentioned that a friend of hers who clings to the socialization theory explains the worst male violence as mental illness. as if mentally ill women commit these horrors, and as if men who are serial rapists and killers don’t test “normal” on psychological tests. I believe that if they thought they could get away with it, most, if not all, men and boys would sexually assault girls, women, other animals, etc.

    And the boys raised by strong feminists often turn out more dangerous with an even stronger sense of entitlement as well as with inside information. (Pornographer Toby Hill-Meyer accepted as a Lesbian, in spite of his public photos of his prick, is an example. He was brought to the Michigan Women’s Music Festival as a boy and is now in a position to censor Lesbians from having workshops at Lesbian conferences.)

    • I agree completely. Men are doomed without the teat of women to suckle their life force from. When men are alone with one another what takes place? Wars, gambling and all manner of high risk behavior that soon sees them dead.

      The idea that the men who do these things are mentally ill is really disrespectful to mentally ill people.

  8. i am not ready to bear the heartbreak of your unassailable logic. thank you for speaking this truth. it is devastating and i am not yet ready to fully practice this truth in my life. you offer me much to consider, even though i already knew it. ugh. growth! it’s only for the brave. and for right now i am allowing myself the cowardice of my shortcomings. gently. one day at a time. i love you. thank you.

  9. The comments above regarding power being the reason for violence, no matter which sex is in power, assume that women and men are biologically the same.

    The link below is a recent “60 minutes overtime” segment regarding profound biological differences between men and women right down to the cellular level, and at the end discussing how such research is suppressed:

    Re-opening the question of whether, to stop male violence, we must consider male biology, is urgently necessary, I think, but the question expands outward very quickly and it is crucial to maintain focus on plain facts. The main problem is that the ideology that men and women are exactly the same biological creatures except for a bit of genitalia here and there serves at least 3 different political groups, each of which have had a few decades to develop complex theories to justify their positions. These theories are the mainstream social consensus today:

    1. Postmodernist Theory and the Academy. This is a very powerful group. Once a theoretical fad gets going in academia, it may run on, piling complexity upon complexity, for a generation, because people coming into the field know to get funding they have to toe the acceptable theoretical line. Postmodernism and its relationship to the struggle for women’s liberation has to be critiqued by those within this establishment. Theories of “social constructivism”, “embodied stance”, “feminist social epistemology”, “intersectionality”, “non-totality”, “non-universalism”, blurred class lines, boundary fuzziness, and the “social construction of reality”, all have contributed to the ideology that women are not a specific oppressed class, but instead just a bunch of shifting social interests with no permanent identity.

    2. Feminist Theory. Liberal feminist theory has had to deal with the patriarchal contention that women are very different from men, AND SUBORDINATE by nature. It has done so, not by showing that women are different BUT NOT subordinate by nature, but by arguing that women are NOT DIFFERENT; that all sex differences are due simply to socialization. I’m realizing as I read more that there is a lot of confusion and conflict between the academic view of social constructivism and this social construction of gender roles argument. Anyway, this is why we have books like feminist Cordelia Fine’s (http://www.cordeliafine.com/delusions_of_gender.html) which “debunk” the manifest biological differences between the brains of the sexes, ignoring the rest of the body, and which are then themselves “debunked” almost as soon as they are written, whenever a reputable scientific study actually does get funded (http://www.cam.ac.uk/research/news/males-and-females-differ-in-specific-brain-structures).

    3. Transactivist Theory. If women and men are basically the same biologically except for those genital bits I mentioned above, and if women are not a specific oppressed group with specific boundaries, but instead just a set of gender roles, it is much easier for transactivist theorists to argue that men can “become” women and women men. But if women are profoundly different biologically, and are a well-defined oppressed group, then trans theorists have a very serious problem. Therefore they have piggybacked onto post-modernism and taken advantage of liberal feminist theory as briefly outlined above, and extended these theories to suit their own agenda.

    All 3 of these theories are arrayed against the plain fact you bring up here, Terri, and will have to be addressed in addition to our doing the work of bringing the suppressed truth back into public view. If we want to seriously get at some of this, I hope we can break the subject down into manageable portions and get more systematic. I wish some women academicians had the guts to align with this position and help. And of course I wish liberal feminists would start questioning just where their social constructionism has got them in terms of stopping male violence.

    In the face of all this, what have we got? The right and desire to be free of violence, and a plain fact: male violence is to some extent hard-wired. It’s a good beginning. Clearing away the obfuscations and bringing back facts that the patriarchy doesn’t want looked at is what we do. The solutions can come when the facts get dragged back into the work. So your article with its simple insight is important.

  10. Quick addition: I didn’t mention a Fourth Theory: Patriarchal Theory, because it seemed so obvious I overlooked it just now. The theory is that any male violence is due to socialization and controlled adequately by current societal controls such as criminal law. The agenda is to allow the male sex to express their biology freely, with only a certain amount of legal and social constraint to prevent the dissolution of society, and to harness male biology for war and other mass violence in incessant power games.

    Thanks again, Terri.

    • Wow. Your comments are really amazing. Thank you for really thinking about this.

      The forces which are served by the belief that men and women are no different are varied, but none of them are radical feminism which deals specifically with female biology as a factor in the oppression and resource extraction men have enacted upon women since the dawn of patriarchy.

  11. Thanks,Nuclear Night, and kisses.

  12. Pingback: THE PARASITIZING AND GUTTING OF RADICAL FEMINISM | Bev Jo — Radical Lesbian Feminist writing

  13. If male violence were solely due to socialization, then why do the males of other species rape, unless it is implied that they are all socialized in the same way????

  14. Thank you for writing this. The truth must be told. As heartbreaking and sad as it is, you are telling the absolute truth. We know this, and non feminist het women do too, but I guess its too painful for them to deal with. An orangutan brothel?! That is one of the most horrendous and horrifying things I have ever heard. How cruel and twisted men are for creating and participating in this nightmare of an “activity.” Sex tourism and straight up prostitution is bad enough. I am an avid animal lover too, and this is the pits. I hate men, and am not afraid to say it. What is there to love? Het women continue to defend men ad nauseam, and they are no better. Women deserve to be treated better than this. In other backward, horribly patriarchal countries, we are treated worse. It disgusts and angers me to the core of my being. I am angry, but its better than living in a fog, and being in denial.

  15. I used to believe that line too! But I honestly don’t think that if more women were in power than men that they would act just as awful. Would lesbians be so oppressed if there was no difference in the behavior of women and men and no difference between a lesbian relationship and a heterosexual relationship?

    I know it’s common for crime drama shows to have a male serial killer who is that way because of childhood sexual abuse, but many females are sexually abused as children and don’t turn out to be serial killers. There are also plenty of male serial killers that came from happy, well-adjusted families where the women paid tons of attention to them, like Ted Bundy.

    The biological difference isn’t a free-pass for men though. Men are capable or restraining themselves from rape when the risks are too high. I don’t think the socialization idea is a free-pass either, but it does imply that women must work extra hard to raise men right (daughters come in last as usual) so they don’t rape and kill. Some women have a martyr complex where they think they can raise their sons to be perfect feminist-ally men and despair when it doesn’t work.

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