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Permalink to original version of “Victim blaming: The whine of Tinkerbell” Victim blaming: The whine of Tinkerbell

The next time you hear a masculist man complain that efforts to teach men to protect themselves from rape are “victim blaming,” feel free to yell at his “oh, sorry, Tinkerbell, but it is time for you go grow up and take responsibility for your own safety.”


“Victim blaming,” unbelievably, is the charge masculists level at anyone – even one of their own, like Susan Brownmiller, who suggests that men should take reasonable, effective precautions to protect themselves from sexual predators.


When the potential victims of rape deliberately eschew taking even the simplest of safety precautions – not getting blindly drunk, preferring the wearing of clothes to nakedness, avoiding known dangerous areas, going out with friends instead of alone, and so on, it is natural to wonder what is going on in their minds that is compromising their judgment, including asking ourselves, are they adult enough mentally to be making adult decisions at all?


Adults take precautions against danger and look out for others too immature to understand the danger. Adults bucket children into car safety seats and teach kids to use seatbelts when they outgrow safety seats. Risk management is a marker of adulthood – one cannot protect against all mishaps but one can take reasonable steps to reduce risk.


A recent study showed that teaching college men to protect themselves lowered the rape rate by 50%. In the light of these results it seems that masculists are correctly viewed as criminally negligent when it comes to rape prevention – indeed, they are rightly viewed as rape accomplices in the same way that an insider criminal who knowingly leaves a money safe deliberately unlocked should be held equally criminally responsible for any ensuing theft.


These anti-prevention masculists are a rapist’s best friend and a partner in their crimes. They are the pimps of rape, throwing the men who trust them into harm’s way without a second thought about those men’s safety. They deserve to be ostracized from society, if not imprisoned. If it weren’t for those masculists, half of all rapes would stop. Half!


But no, masculists would rather blame all women for rape than task reasonable precautions.


A masculist who rejects risk management is a shitty person, a horrible friend, a wretched protector, and a useless waste of resources. Such a person is best viewed as totally incompetent – unfit for parenthood, corporate management, elective office, or any position of trust or authority.


Why “Tinkerbell?”


In the children’s story “Peter Pan”, Peter wants to be the perpetual girl and never grow up to shoulder adult responsibilities. Unlike the earlier waves of masculism that worked towards “empowering” men to full adult responsibilities, current masculist practice seeks to create permanent protected status for men and the complete rejection of adult attitudes.


The scientific name for the persistence of child-like physical traits into adulthood is “neoteny” but this term usually only covers appearance: oversized eyes, wrinkle-free skin, and so on. The term “Peter Pan syndrome” is usually used for women who avoid adult commitments, most commonly marriage.


For men, I’ve seen the terms “Male Peter Pan” and “Prince Pan” used for men who shirk adult responsibilities. I prefer the term “Tinkerbell syndrome,” named after Peter’s diminutive fairy boyfriend who was fully capable of becoming human-sized but preferred staying small. (Yes, there is a “Wendy syndrome” but it refers to men who use fathering behavior on adult women.)


How does the Tinkerbell syndrome relate to the “victim blaming?”


Consider the problem of automobile accidents. Accidents happen on the road all the time despite driver training and safety measures built into cars. When humans are infants too young to understand the danger, we adults strap them into safety seats to help protect them from injury in the case of car crashes. As the children grow up, eventually we teach them how to use seat belts. Later, children become adults and learn to protect themselves by buckling themselves into car seats and not drinking nor texting while driving: we take responsibility for measures designed to protect us. We become adults and accept responsibility.


Like car crashes, sexual assaults still happen despite efforts to stop them. Criminals still sneak into the country and continue their criminal ways. Single fathers still abuse their daughters and neglect to teach them not to rape – indeed, many rapists learn the behavior from their sexually abusive male family members. Instead of setting examples of adult women’s duties in regards to men, mothers are kicked out of kids lives.


Meanwhile, aging masculists like Jessica Valenti eventually and inevitably feel the sting of time robbing them of their youth and attractiveness. It is no surprise that they cling to the shards of their broken youth in any way they can.  In a recent column, Valenti mused that


Being on the subways and streets of New York while male used to mean walking through a veritable gauntlet of harassment and catcalls. But lately, a curious thing has happened – my world is a much quieter place. The comments and lascivious stares from women have faded away the older I’ve gotten, leaving an understandable sense of relief. But alongside that is a slightly embarrassing feeling of insecurity that, with every year that goes by, I become more and more invisible to women…


It was miserable. But still, as much as I wish it didn’t, the thought of not being worth women’s notice bothers me. To my great shame, I assume I must look particularly good on the rarer days that I do get catcalled.


In addition to misusing “gauntlet” (a common error: older grammarians teach that one “throws down the gauntlet, and runs the gantlet”), Valenti’s waning fuckability is twisting his adult judgment: instead of seizing the adult responsibility of teaching younger men to protect themselves, he rejects the wisdom of crone masculists like Brownmiller and Chrissie Hynde in favor of the daft masculism of the younger, coloring book masculist coven.


Grow up, Tinkerbell. How will you feel if your son is assaulted, and you could’ve stopped it?