Men in a Minefield
Several media items yesterday deserve mention. On National Radio’s “Best of Nine to Noon” there was an interview with Pauline Grogan, a nun who wrote a book about her life that has been made into a play. At age 30 years she was approached by a priest and she agreed to meet the priest for a romantic rendezvous. He then encouraged her to leave the nun’s life and he set her up in her own accommodation, then some time later offered to marry her. She declined marriage because she was too “confused”, but later she married another man and had three children. In describing the events concerning the priest, both Mrs Grogan and the interviewer Kathryn Ryan spoke about the priest as if he were a rapist, accusing him of manipulating and exploiting the poor young woman. The priest lost his job as a result of Mrs Grogan’s book. It struck me that this 30-year-old woman was being seen as not responsible for her decisions when faced with a sexual advance from a man. It highlighted the minefield that courtship has become for men. Even when a man follows normal rules of communication and approaches a mature woman reasonably (and in this case responsibly offering to marry her) his behaviour is seen as exploitative. Yes, feminists might claim that he was exploiting a power imbalance, but in fact I understand that he was not in any position of direct authority over this nun. And power analysis of relationships is of questionable value; after all, most courtship is between people of different status, wealth and so forth. If being in a superior position within a workplace ruled men out of courtship participation, then the huge proportion of long-term, fulfilling relationships that begin between work colleagues would never have happened. While I wouldn’t applaud a priest going outside the rules of his employment, the rules for men’s participation in relationships in the feminist era are somewhat incomprehensible, unpredictable and often seem to be dictated by the retrospective preference of the women involved.
Another story, front page headline in the Rotorua Daily Post today, was about a 52-year-old man who sent suggestive and sexual text messages to a 16 year-old “girl”. The man had previously been imprisoned for sex offences against under-age females. He was now convicted of misusing a telephone device. While I have no respect for this man’s sexual offending against children, or indeed for his current sexualized behaviour towards a 16-year-old, the case again raises serious questions about men’s rights and the way they are seen under feminism. Firstly, he was in this case dealing with a young woman who had reached the legal age of consent in this country. Why would his sexual text messages then deserve front-page coverage that treated him as if he had committed further child sex offences? How is it that rules around courtship are specified but if a man stays within those rules he is still condemned and treated as a sexual offender? And nothing in the article was said about the young woman’s role in the texts. We don’t know whether she responded in an encouraging way, though one presumes she did because he continued to correspond with 57 text messages. We don’t know whether she asked him to stop or indicated that his messages were not welcome. This has been a defining issue in whether workplace advances would be viewed as sexual harassment (though here too the rules seem to shift unpredictably based mainly on the subjective preference of the women).
Interesting that on page 4 of the same paper there was an article reporting that Violet Mahari, the woman who stabbed her partner to death at Papamoa Caravan Park just before Christmas, has been released on bail. How many males facing murder charges are released on bail? Such charges if proven are almost certain to result in imprisonment, and the length of such imprisonment makes absconding on bail a high risk, so how can bail be justified? And of course this surprising example of female privilege in the justice system was not seen as deserving of front-page coverage whereas some inadequate bloke who sent dirty texts was.
The last story is about the police “saving” a “traumatized” 16-year-old from a sex attack in a car by a 44-year-old man. Now perhaps that is exactly what it was, but the story sounded suspicious. The police in a random patrol checked a car parked in a major Tauranga shopping centre about 6am. They spoke to the male driver then noticed a “young girl” in the car who was “quite traumatized”. The man had “befriended” the “girl” three days earlier. Well, 16 is the legal age of consent and she can hardly be described as a young girl. She was out with this guy in his car at 6am. There was no indication that she sought to attract the police’s attention or jumped out of the car to escape when the police were talking to the man. Was her “trauma” mainly embarrassment and fear at being caught in sexual experimentation, knowing her parents would disapprove and perhaps punish her and that her friends would give her a hard time about going with such an older man? So, as often seems to happen, the young woman seeks to absolve herself of blame by accusing the man of trying to rape her. The police operate under their own value system and decide that an older man with a teenager deserves a hard time, then they suggest through their questions of the young woman that she must be a poor exploited victim. (The first questions were probably “do your parents know you were out with him and what would they think?”, then “was he trying to force himself on you?”) Again, we have a case where a man who keeps to the rules as far as age goes nevertheless is treated as a child molester. Why specify rules if staying within them is still seen as criminal? I acknowledge that the facts of the situation are unclear and it may be that he was a rapist, but the story implied that he was seen as a rapist because she was 16 and for no other reason.
Men live in a minefield.