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NCFM Member Peter Allemano’s comments on his Globo TV interview re CA SB 967

October 7, 2014
By

By NCFM

Peter is the man on the left.

Peter is the man on the left.

by Peter Allemano

The abrupt ending to the news story on “Bom dia Brasil” — only 7 seconds into my appearance — suggests an unexpected, last minute need to shorten the report before airing. That’s too bad. But at least Globo TV refrained from the tack that’s followed by so many major media outlets here in the States: It did NOT try to pass off ideological axe-grinding as “news.”

During the hour or so that the 2 two men from Globo TV visited me in my apartment, about 10 minutes of videotaping were devoted to the interview itself and 10 additional minutes to general discussion. Coincidentally, back in my 30s, I spent 2 months in São Paulo, studying Portuguese and working as a model. So — as the men entered — I greeted them in their native language. They brightened visibly, and so our meeting got off to a very good start indeed. (In addition, they laughed heartily in response to my impression of the highly emotional, much-beloved Brazilian TV talk show hostess, Hebe Camargo, who died 2 years ago.)

Key topics covered in the interview itself included the sexist character of “yes means yes” legislation, which I characterized as an ill-conceived attempt to regulate “a social convention,” i.e., the expectation that the male (and not the female) will be the initiator at every point in a series of interactions between the sexes. I said that with even kissing being designated as a manifestation of sexual assault on some college campuses — if not preceded by explicit verbal consent — the potential existed to turn virtually every male student into a criminal. Not all of the male students could be expelled at once, of course, so administrators — if they were doing their jobs diligently — would have to engage in “selective prosecution.”   I cited a couple of potential ghastly outcomes.

I said that I, personally, wonder whether our leaders’ concern for female students is even genuine. I said that we need to ask ourselves a hard question: Are our chivalrous feelings to want to provide “protection” for females being exploited so that some kind of “protection racket” can be imposed? (Fábio was unfamiliar with this idiomatic expression in English, so I explained to him what it meant.)

To be sure, I acknowledged, the language of Law SB 967 is gender-neutral, so there exists a potential for female students to suffer unfairly too. But, I said, it was far less likely. The example I chose with which to illustrate our American cultural bias was the popular 2002 feature film, “Tadpole.” Marketed as a “romantic comedy,” it depicts an exploitative sexual encounter that conforms exactly to the type of situation that the supporters of “yes means yes” legislation find so worrisome. A 16-year-old boy, intoxicated to the point of being unable to recognize the (completely sober) middle-aged woman who is manipulating him, submits to her seduction under the erroneous impression that she is actually someone else. The next morning, the boy is aghast with embarrassment, but the woman is coy and very pleased with herself. He begs her never to mention the encounter to anyone, but almost immediately she gossips about it with her girlfriends. In a highly dramatic encounter that she stages in a restaurant, she even holds the boy up for ridicule in front of his parents. Boys do not survive such abuse without long-term psychological scarring, I told Fábio, but here in the States many of us couldn’t care less. We laugh — very cruelly — at such misadventures.

I told Fábio that when the escalating danger inherent in being a male student really begins to sink in on college campuses, then we shouldn’t be too surprised if the smartest of the young men begin to avoid their female classmates altogether. I asked a rhetorical question: Isn’t it hard enough for our brightest young women to find nice boyfriends without having to go begging for attention?

We discussed the oft-repeated statement that 1 in 5 female college students are raped — which Fábio agreed was absolutely astonishing and would naturally lead one to wonder what father would ever allow his daughter to go to college at all, if that claim were true. I explained to Fábio that this famous sound bite has been thoroughly discredited — by both rigorous examination of the flawed methodology through which it came into being as well as by research that is based in intellectual probity instead of in ideology and advocacy. But does any of this really matter? Apparently not. According to Vladimir Lenin, I told Fábio, “A lie told often enough becomes truth.”

I also briefly told him about what was perhaps the earliest manifestation of the so-called “rape crisis” (now a veritable hysteria), referring him to the sensational results of a famous Ms. Magazine study. But the researcher who conducted it later admitted that the overwhelming majority of the women she had counted as rape victims did not, in fact, regard themselves as having been raped. Again, I emphasized to Fábio, “advocacy” research deserves to be regarded skeptically and with an abundance of caution. He had never heard of Ms. Magazine’s former editor, Robin Morgan, so I cited for him her famous words, referring to “man-hating” as “an honorable and viable political act.”

“But men are bigger than women,” Fábio observed, dutifully presenting me with one potential argument in favor of the new California law. I acknowledged that, on average, yes, that was true. But I emphasized that it did not necessarily always mean that a large man could succeed in taking unfair physical advantage of a woman — pointing out myself as an example. I am 6’3” tall and weigh 220 pounds but am disabled. So almost any woman — if she wanted to — could easily push me under the wheels of an in-motion diesel truck.

Moreover, I said, there are numerous advantages and strengths, unavailable to most men, that women have and that are seemingly invisible to us because we tend, unthinkingly, regard the female’s advantages as her natural prerogative. This led into a Farrellesqe description of gender roles.

So, Fábio wanted to know: What should be done about on-campus sexual assault? I told him that nobody in NCFM wants anyone on campus — of either sex — to suffer any kind of violation. But in the realm of rape, I said, criminal courts constitute the appropriate venue, not ad hoc committees composed of untrained administrators. Those committees apply a much lower standard of proof (which I compared, using specific terminology, to the standard applied in criminal courts). Moreover, committee members are inclined to evaluate the situations presented to them from personal and philosophical points of view instead of by trying to determine whether the situations meet specific legal standards of misconduct.

Fábio also asked what steps might be taken — apart from legislation — to try to reduce incidents of sexual assault on campus. This led into a discussion of NCFM’s “Philosophy” statement, and I quoted the portion about how men are socialized to relate to women as “permission giving mother figures.” I said that, personally, I would like to see boys raised to cherish their own inherent preciousness — and I said that we need to refrain from teaching them that their self-worth is dependent upon approval (or lack thereof) from the opposite sex. Though many women ostensibly claim to want this for boys too, the reality at large is quite different, and I said that, for many women, the very idea of surrendering any of the psychological power they wield over men and boys is literally unthinkable. Indeed, I stated, the power is so taken-for-granted that most of us fail even to recognize its existence. I said that when men become psychologically less needy in relation to women, then men will be far less prone to do “anything” (including engaging in unwelcome advances) to get attention from women. I also said that I would like to see women learning to share the unacknowledged “work” of initiating with the opposite sex but that I doubted any such change would become widespread within my lifetime.

I admitted to Fábio that I feel pessimistic about our collective future, emphasizing that others would disagree with me and that in no way did I consider my personal feelings to constitute any justification for NCFM to “give up” on its mission. To the contrary, I said, I remain very much an activist — albeit mainly in a very different way from when I first joined NCFM, back in 1994.

My perspective is that, in the short-term, Law SB 967 will be of potential harm to college men and women alike. In the long-term, however, my perspective is that Law SB 967 will be irrelevant — because, at the current rate of declining male college enrollment, the last time that a man earns a college degree will be in 2068. Unless the present trajectory changes, then after that point in time there will be no male college students at all. The people themselves who compile and study these statistics are skeptical that any such event will occur — because, they say, something-or-other will undoubtedly intervene and change the trajectory long before then. If so, then the claim is akin to comparable claims that, at the present rate of the cutting-down of trees, by the year thus-and-such our planet will have no more rain forests. Personally, I think that with respect to the rain forests, something-or-other will indeed change and the decline will slow and finally halt. With regard to male college enrollment, I’m not so sure.

When the interview was finished and with the camera still rolling, I explained to Fábio the reasons why, in recent years, my activism has veered into more personally-meaningful endeavors than in the past. On my computer, I showed him the 3 Greek-myth-themed creative modeling projects that I’ve done with Miami-based art photographer David Vance. I also showed Fábio the essays I’d written to accompany those illustrations, and I briefly summarized each of the stories that the photos tell. Fábio gazed admiringly at everything, and — realizing that, to some degree, I’d found a sympathetic ally — when I embarked upon describing “Daedalus and Icarus” (one of the most multi-faceted, marvelous mythical examinations of the experience of being male, whether young or no-longer-young), it was a struggle to prevent myself from bursting into tears. Fábio rested his hand on my shoulder as I regained composure, and the cameraman zoomed in on my face. None of this will ever be seen on the air, of course — but who knows what “seeds of interest” I may have planted at Globo TV or how influential those “seeds” may ultimately prove to be? According to Wikipedia, “Globo is the second-largest commercial TV network in annual revenue worldwide just behind the American ABC Television Network.”

National Coalition for MenCalifornia bill SB 967 was signed into law by Governor Brown. Apparently, like the legislators who voted for this bill, he too forgot his oath of office.

SB 967 is one of the worse pieces of legislation every passed, it is anti-male, regressive, and anti-American.

2 Responses to NCFM Member Peter Allemano’s comments on his Globo TV interview re CA SB 967

Steve Rusch on October 11, 2014 at 1:11 AM

Right. Uh-huh. Who really wants a false accusation on his conscience? Not me.

And as for a TRUE accusation— well, I’m never going to be in that position. Anyone who finds himself in that position is in WAY over his head and needs to slow the FiretrUCK down and reassess. And, in this case, yes: keep it in his pants.

REPLY

Emelio Lizardo on October 9, 2014 at 7:19 PM

It’s the old Antioch Rules realized in law. The cure is simple, begin accusing women. As almost any form of contact is rape, it should be easy.

REPLY

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