MRA’s vs. the Ghost of 60’s Feminism and What Happened to Don Juan

The Ethical Slut, in a section discussing sex-negative language, spends some well-deserved time on the implications of “slut” vs. “stud.” It then mentions Don Juan, alongside Casanova and Jezebel as examples of legendary figures used as derogatory terms to express a negative attitude toward promiscuity. Something strikes me as odd here. I’m thinking: really? Don Juan is a curse word? I always thought of him as a suave seducer who adores women but can’t commit to one for life. But then it all came together. I suppose you could call someone a Don Juan. Other terms come to mind: womanizer, player or pick-up artist – Don Juan’s unfortunate 21st century incarnation.

Don Juan is a true romantic at heart who’s just misunderstood. He is not a liar or a cheater, or in any way disingenuous. He doesn’t have a script. He genuinely loves women and the art of seduction. Not everyone has just one love in their life – this doesn’t imply a lack of character or insincerity. It is also important to note that Don Juan is not a part of patriarchy, as he is himself a victim of patriarchy – being forced to “win” his fully consenting lover from her father. And yet, as a woman, even I pause with caution when I hear someone described as a “Don Juan.” It does translate into womanizer and player in my mind. I ask myself: is it hypocritical of me to ever call someone a womanizer or a player when I object to the term “slut” as pejorative? Let’s break it down. What are the implications? A “slut” is a promiscuous woman. It is the amount of partners and sex she has that determine her “sluttiness.” Hence Limbaugh’s “SO MUCH SEX!” tirade. A womanizer/player is a promiscuous man. But the implication here is some form of manipulation and deceit, as in he is “playing you.” So the judgement implied in the term is directed towards the inherent dishonesty, rather than the amount of sexual partners a man has. However there is frequently a general assumption by both men and women in this paradigm, that a hetero man cannot possibly be sexually active with multiple partners without being a manipulative liar. This becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

So what happened to the genuinely loving and passionate in the moment Don Juan and how did he turn into the cynical player?

When you examine some of the language around current male-centric movements, ranging from the MRA’s, to pick-up artists, to drunk hill-billies shouting on Facebook, – under the affected apathetic misogyny, you sense a deeply repressed sexuality and lost masculinity that never quite redefined itself post women’s lib. (This does not apply to ALL MRA’s, but is an attitude seen frequently expressed by self-proclaimed MRA’s and self-proclaimed anti-Feminists.) A staunch Feminist will ask: why would women’s lib infringe on men’s sexuality, unless said sexuality has previously defined itself through oppressing women? Ok, let’s step back and be honest here. Remember good old anti-porn Feminism? Well, that was mainstream Feminism, or at least wide-spread, from the 60’s to the 80’s. Andrea Dworkin, who wrote Intercourse, defining all hetero sex as inherently violent, spear-headed Take Back the Night – a movement against rape and pornography, essentially linking the two. The sex-negative attitude professed by this form of Feminism (condemning BDSM and all of pornography) has taken agency from women, calling their informed consent into question. But it also took a toll on male sexuality, creating a rigid wall of repressive political correctness, leaving a genuinely conscientious man to question all his impulses. Current anti-porn Feminists still insist on assuming men who watch pornography are perverts.

As men internalized the sex negativity professed by this brand of Feminism, Don Juan has ceased to exist. The current social norms available for young men to choose from are “nice guy,” who is presumably “pussy-whipped” and devoid of a self-defined, unfettered masculinity; or a total disingenuous asshole, as in – player, liar and cheater. The option of an honest and respectful man who happens to love many women (at a time or in his lifetime, ethical-slut style) is simply not available and is viewed with suspicion even by the most liberated women. On pick-up artist forums I see “gentleman” and “alpha male” used as mutually exclusive opposites, as if one cannot be “alpha” while being respectful of others’ boundaries.

This dichotomy of extremes without a happy medium, as always, exists as a result of repression. But it’s time to move on from the 60’s idea of Feminism. Sex-positive Feminism is the current mainstream, as apparently Feminism has self-corrected. It is all-encompassing and accepting of various sexual practices, orientations and genders. It isn’t judgmental of pornography, BDSM or hetero male sexuality. Shouldn’t the MRA’s love sexually liberated women who are accepting of male sexuality, while reclaiming their own agency? They should, but they don’t. There is a certain blindspot there. MRA’s seem stuck on that old-school academic definition of Feminism. The entire movement is based on counteracting it. They refuse to see the currently prevalent sex-positive, individualist Feminism, and even when faced with it make false assumptions. I suppose acknowledging this would make the movement somewhat irrelevant, especially in light of the fact that valid men’s causes, such as anti-circumcision, otherwise known as Intactivism, are in alignment with Feminism, as it relates to bodily integrity, personal autonomy and gender equality. (OMG, this sounds like Libertarianism, doesn’t it? Shh, don’t tell. The boys will get very upset.) So please relax. The SlutWalks (which are the contemporary, sex-positive incarnation of Take Back the Night) aren’t there to accuse everyone of rape and assume all men are rapists. They are there to demonstrate that it IS possible to create a non-judgmental sex-positive environment that is empowering and liberating for EVERYONE, and this shouldn’t mean exposing ourselves to sexual assault. Simple and beautiful idea. Feminism does not seek to empower women at the expense of men. It seeks to balance out the repercussions of rigid gender roles that have been written in stone for so long and have done damage to both genders, curiously some of which MRA’s complain about, such as the breadwinner role. Male disposability also plays into Feminism, as it seeks to reach true equality in the military. (You know what would really help put more women in the military? Addressing the honest to God rape culture that exists there!) Current Feminism also doesn’t seek to censor and police language for the sake of political correctness. (Note that criticism is not the same as government censorship.) Instead WE choose to reclaim this language.

26 Responses

  1. S. R. Mann says:

    This is a very well-written and thought provoking post. You articulate the dialectics that have cropped up as a result of past movements in a striking manner that bring attention to a societal move past gender equality to gender superiority (from both certain movements of feminism as well as some MRAs). I think those of all political stripes can strive for the former (true gender equality), even if people disagree about modes of sexual freedom (as for me, I have zero issue with sexual freedom in the manner that you discuss).

    Thank you very much for directing me to this post. It’s actually got some wheels turning in my head for something to write about on the blog I contribute to. Cheers! <3

    • feminazislut says:

      Ironically though I think when movements get into the realm of gender superiority, they bite themselves in the ass. Only true gender equality is beneficial to both genders. I believe sex-negative Feminism is detrimental to both men and women, as it takes agency away from women and perpetuates rape culture.

  2. Hired Mind says:

    ” MRA’s seem stuck on that old-school academic definition of Feminism. The entire movement is based on counteracting it.”

    Honestly, this hasn’t been my experience much at all. Most MRAs are talking about the modern effects brought about by the legacy of Feminism not the actual theory itself. In government: college graduation rates which favor women combined with government spending to get even more women graduated from college; disparities in medical research spending, which decisively favor women; family and divorce court issues; criminal sentences which are much harsher for men for the same crimes, etc. In culture: there are MRAs talking about competitiveness in gaming; alleged sexism at atheist conferences; Misandry in the media, the branding of all males as rapists, etc.

    Really the only MRAs that come close to exploring 60s Feminism itself are the ones who are debunking Feminist myths surrounding domestic and other violence statistics, or they are exploring how evolutionary biology has effected public policy. Some of these are actually going back beyond the 60s, exploring (e.g) how the basis for the right to vote was originally the obligation to fight and die for your country, and how women got it for the asking, etc.

    In any case, I really *wish* MRAs would focus on the academic/intellectual basis for Feminism. Every cultural change requires an intellectual framework, a structure on which all other aspects of that change are fastened. Without it, the West will never get to the point of true equality.

  3. DrkLrdBill says:

    As a feminist, I have a large issue with MRAs. They (mostly) seem to just perpetuate the idea that all men are being held back by feminism, when it actually is quite the opposite. For there to be true gender equality, we (men and women) need to work together to get women treated just like men. Instead, MRAs seem to think that women are getting “too” much power, and they continue to keep pushing the gender equality gap wider.

    I’m also a member of the military, and I was really glad that I was able to host a mandatory training session on “The Invisible War,” which I definitely think opened up people’s eyes in my units. A couple guys (and even some gals) used to victim-blame and accuse women of false reporting. They definitely may STILL think that, but I could tell from the discussion that they finally were able to internalize the idea that the military legitimizes rape and sexual assault.

    -Dirty Liberal

    • feminazislut says:

      Oh I know. The military is the worst form of rape culture, which is why it’s so screechingly ironic for MRAs to bring up male disposability without mentioning the sexism in the military. The irony being that feminists WANT equality in the military. And personally, I don’t support a draft of any kind. So that’s my answer to male disposability.

  4. Maria says:

    I do think this discussion on how masculinity has been defined, and is currently being defined, into the binary you describe ought to be discussed more. And the above commenter is correct. Feminism as an intellectual concept, and how it affects men, is rightfully lamented in the MR issues, such as incarceration, education disparity, boys as over-medicated for ADHD, high rates of ASD in boys, and so on. It’s a rough world out there for our boys and our girls.

    But the one thing I find consistently problematic for the sex-positive movement, is the problem of unwanted pregnancies. I’ve heard men complain about this, and it is a valid concern, and a bit of a double standard.

    We rightfully give women the choice over a pregnancy and childbirth. As a mother, my experience in parenthood is vastly different than my partner’s. But that doesn’t invalidate his experience. When the ethical slut expresses he doesn’t want children, proceeds to wear a condom and practice safe sex, and a pregnancy results, as it sometimes does, he doesn’t have a way out, ethically speaking.

    Yes, sure, he can stroll on his way and be what we so endearingly refer to as a, “deadbeat dad.” But there is still a real live child walking around who may feel abandoned or resentful to his ethical sperm donor, who was practicing ethical sex and whom expressly stated he did not want children.

    I’ve heard my male friends say also, ‘Consent to sex is not consent to fatherhood.’

    • feminazislut says:

      “I’ve heard my male friends say also, ‘Consent to sex is not consent to fatherhood.’”
      You hit the nail on the head there. I agree. While the choice to carry to term or not is rightfully a woman’s choice, it shouldn’t come with the option of making the man support a child he did not want. I think the man should be given the option to cover abortion costs instead. If she still chooses to have the baby, it is her responsibility.

        • FeminaziSlut says:

          As does Maria (above)! She is also an intactivist! As I said in the article – many current feminists do support legitimate men’s rights causes.

  5. Bill Banner says:

    Loved the read and I openly admit my “Don Juan” lifestyle and I am not a player… I’m open and honest with every woman I’m involved with. I love all women… nothing on earth is more mysterious and beautiful than women. To me commitment to one women is like taking a kid to Baskin Robbins Ice cream (32 flavors) every day but telling them they can only have vanilla the rest of their life. I’m afraid I’ll have to at least try all 32 flavors… then eventually I may find a flavor I don’t want to live without.

  6. Pingback: Serving up Some Fresh Feminazi Rhymes to an MRA | FeminaziSlut

  7. Rich B. says:

    This is what I hope ALL feminism becomes, sure I know there will always be a radical to any ideology but this is something I will gladly stand behind. I consider myself a humanist but I am fighting the male oppression in the feminism taught in colleges, media and pushed by the state, ideas that accuse us of being rapists just waiting for our chance to strike, which is a lie. I don’t personally know much about the military rape thing, I have heard something about it though. The problem is that I doubt a lot of the statistics on rape because when I looked deeper at them I found the surveys included ANY alcohol or ANY drugs and no “Convincing” to have sex. These are so blanketed, it could have been a sip of a glass of wine and a consensual date, it could have been a hit of the ganja, and I don’t blame someone for being a good salesperson (that’s better for the GDP).

    Anyway, I don’t think this makes you a feminazi, you may identify as a feminist but the feminism I am fighting is nothing like what you described. The feminism I dislike calls a man who looks at a girl an objectifying pig and wants porn banned. The feminism I dislike almost got it banned in fact in Europe not long ago, it was brought to vote for woman’s day, they also wanted to get rid of advertizing sex tourism. The feminism I fight doesn’t allow due process for a rape allegation before the trial and even shames entire communities who know the accused for giving a character reference, the fact is false accusations exist and they devalue the real cases where good women are abused in one of the most horrible ways possible. Honestly, I fear that one day I might get a vindictive lover who falsely accuses me and in a “your word vs theirs” system that can be pretty dangerous.

    So I take it feminism is in a civil war, what do you think about the slutwalk where the guy in Brazil flashed his junk at a bunch of women in slutwalk who were flashing themselves at him, then he was attacked and later arrested? Why is that okay? I think his statement was, “I’m okay with yours, so you should be cool with mine.”

    • feminazislut says:

      Well, first off the Feminazi label is ironic. It was in response to Rush Limbaugh’s Sandra Fluke debacle. You’re right – I’m absolutely not a feminazi. But I am a feminist and here to show that not all feminists are feminazis. In fact a majority are not. I think a lot of politics is a war of words more than substance. Groups pit themselves against each other with language, because the rhetoric of one-liner slogans on signs can be very limiting. As a feminist, I feel misunderstood by some. For instance, when we say “rape culture” – we’re not implying that men are all naturally rapists. We’re actually commenting on our cultural norms more than men or women and their natural tendencies. My take on this – shared by many I can cite – is that our sex-negative society has not clearly defined consent – how to give it and how to receive it. It is not something we’re comfortable with teaching our children. As a result we have created an environment that encourages two things: 1. slut-shaming the victim, 2. invalidating consent when given by a “minor” or by someone under the influence. Personally, I believe there is only one thing that separates rape from consensual sex… you guessed it – consent! This means that an unconscious, non-responsive person cannot give consent, but a person still conscious but drunk can. It also means that one gives consent for each individual act. (So if someone gives consent but is not interested in a particular act and clearly says “no” – it is still rape. And it doesn’t matter if the person accused is a boyfriend.) An interesting article espousing this view was posted on a few MRA pages, called “My Bad Sex Wasn’t Rape.” Interestingly, none of the MRAs noticed the article was written by a self-identified feminist, who uses the term “rape culture,” but disputes other feminists!
      Regarding Steubenville – a lot of the witch hunt that happened (attacking the whole town, etc.) was Anonymous. Anonymous cleverly has been attempting to hijack feminism to improve their ratings, so to speak. But they do not speak for us!
      About the Slutwalk in Brazil – I do not approve of the crowd’s response in the video. Keep in mind the Slutwalks were a grassroots movement that spread like wildfire without central control. It may not have translated well to other countries, but that had nothing to do with the original Slutwalk in Toronto, and had a different vibe. Also, FYI the women in Slutwalk are not actually exposing themselves. (They would get arrested.) They are just wearing lingerie.

      • MadamBelladonna says:

        The thing with sex and drinking: my fiance and I have worked it to where there’s no misunderstandings. He asks BEFORE we start drinking. If he gets a yes, he asks AGAIN when I’m drunk (he doesn’t get drunk regardless of how much he drinks, and I’m hammered after 2 beers, don’t know why), and if he gets another yes, it’s a yes.

        If he gets a no while sober, it’s a no, even if I change my mind drunk. If he gets a yes sober and I change my mind drunk, it’s a no. Even if I give two yes’s and he thinks I’m TOO drunk (like, about to puke or can’t walk at least somewhat), he still doesn’t have sex with me, even if I beg, which I kinda don’t like that part, but oh well 😉

        Some people, myself included, enjoy drunk sex. I hate it when some people define all drunk sex as rape: it’s totally not. We devised this system without even talking about it-it just worked itself out that way. He’d give me the “wink wink, nudge nudge, so, later on…” and I’d say yea or nay. I think it would be good for nights when people are out partying with friends. There would be less room for miscommunications that way.

        With regard to SlutWalk: I’ve only been to one. No one was dressed inappropriately at all, not even naughty lingerie. It was just a protest against slut-shaming and victim blaming. My friend even brought her 2 year old son and we had a lot of people honking in approval as they drove past (it was ADORABLE! We were chanting “However we dress, wherever we go, yes means yes and no means no” and he was chanting along “Yes yes! No no!”-gotta love the itty bitty feminists!). I live in the middle of the United States, so idk if that factors into it or not, but the SlutWalk I went to was great. They also had cupcakes, a major plus.

    • feminazislut says:

      Hey, Rich! I just wanna add, in light of our recent discussion on FB, how can you say you hope all of Feminism becomes like this, when you continue to berate us for associating with “that hate group” and equating us with the KKK? You’d be better off recognizing us as Third Wave sex-positive feminists and working with us, since you agree on the issues!

  8. T. Bedlam says:

    Not exactly on topic for this particular blog, but I just wanted to say that as a person who finds a lot of truth to some of what a lot of the Men’s Rights crowd says but can’t stand all of the hangers-on and ignorant kids who twist the push for true equality into some kind of petty squabble, I really love this blog. You seem to really know what’s up, and though you might occasionally use terminology that might cause a knee-jerk reaction in the kids, I feel like you actually understand the core of the issues, that they are real, and that they need to be addressed. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve lamented having to throw my hat in with a bunch of idiots who have sort of the right idea on one side, and the gynocentric faux-feminist talking-point-machines on the other. Albeit, I only read a few articles here so far, but from what I’ve seen it feels good to know that there are people out there who at least understand that ‘patriarchy’ is not the unilateral support and praising of all men over all women. Thanks for that. There need to be more people like you on the forefront, even if I think you could be a bit nicer sometimes. I’d prefer to work with a snarky sarcastic egalitarian over the ignorant frothing lunatics that make up the rank-and-file of most MRA groups and Feminist groups alike any day. Thank you. I’m glad I’m not the only person who sees this shit.

    • feminazislut says:

      Hey, thanks! The reason I insist on using such lethal terminology as “patriarchy” is that I insist on presenting it in a context that I believe it was meant to be understood in originally. Any ideology can be twisted beyond recognition when taken to an extreme. I’m reclaiming these concepts in a way that they were originally defined by First Wave Feminism and putting it in a modern context. To me, Third Wave Feminism has its own distinct identity, which is based on a critical look at the Second Wave. I still respect what the Second Wave did, albeit the flaws, but we are our own generation and we define our own Feminism. To boil it down, the Second Wave was an active recognition and rejection of patriarchy. The Third Wave is a struggle for personal autonomy, otherwise known as “choice” as it applies to every aspect of a woman’s life. We have slowly rejected the idea that there is only one way to be a feminist.
      As for snark, I do appreciate a nice bit of biting sarcasm. That can be healthy. However, I have no patience or interest in polemics and talking points. I believe in mutual respect and civil discourse.

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  10. Nomad says:

    How about “sexually liberating” so called “low status” males, instead of deciding for us, from the age of 4, that we’re losers and we deserve to be forced to grow old and die off alone and left out for our entire lives. We’ve got something like 90+% of women chasing something like 15% of men. But nobody cares about our choice.

    • feminazislut says:

      So… by “sexually liberating men of lower status,” I assume you mean forcing ourselves to date/have sex with men we’re not naturally attracted to. It seems like you’re confused about the idea of personal autonomy, freedom and liberation. The concept of personal autonomy means having choices in regards to one’s own life and body. It does not include an entitlement to sex or romance. You have to go out and get that all on your own.
      The issue with pick-up-artist mentality is this sense of entitlement. It’s based on this idea that ALL men, no matter how unattractive or uninteresting deserve the hottest woman – what you would call a “10.” So they spend their time going after women who made it clear from the start they are not interested. But instead of cutting their losses and moving on to a more accessible target, they blame themselves and their game for this failure, thinking that all they have to do is revise their game. And that’s how they get “friend-zoned” – by hanging on too damn long and not taking “no” for an answer. My advise to men, is to hone their “game,” as in talking to women, but learn to take rejection and move on, and don’t bite what you can’t chew. If you don’t think you can handle rejection, don’t bother approaching. Women don’t want to purposefully hurt mens’ feelings. But we want a socially comfortable way to decline.
      So to address your grievance – you do have a choice. Your choice is to approach a woman or not approach her. You can choose what woman to approach. You cannot choose if she says yes or no. If you could – that would be rape.

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