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Monday, September 18, 2006

Craigslist-Jason Fortuny-and how to traumatize a therapist

Nothing upsets me: This upset me.

Following up on the concept that I'm supposed to share, here. I'm sharing. You'll be so sorry you asked.

Here's how it goes.

People need to feel they can open up to their therapist. They need to think they can say whatever it is that they have to say, and not be judged, not be laughed at, not be ratted on to the cops or to their parents.

So therapists like me go into many of our sessions, well, a little flat on the affect side.

Not that I'm not usually in a good mood and cheerful. I'm the kind of person who is always pretty much up. Unless I'm tired, in which case I'm down. You guys seem to forgive me when that happens, as long as it's not too often, right?

But I go into each session ready for bear, ready for anything. Ready to hear and accept all of the junk that's happened to you, any garbage, abuse, explicit, implicit, anything.

You tell it all, and I am humbled and privileged and amazed, each time, at the amount of trust you have in me, in my profession, to absorb all that truth.

Therapists have a high burn out rate. I've said it before- most end up in real estate. It's no joke. That's because there's so much drek that humans do to one another. It hurts the spirit to think about how much.

In case you don't know, drek is a Yiddish word for the s- word, the one my prim and proper mother (hi mom, one day read my blog, okay?) said our dog made into a household word because he s-ed in the house on occasion. Still, I don't use the word. Not when I'm conscious, unless I hit my elbow or stub a toe, or drop something or get a bill or speed past a police car. S- happens.

Anway, I take a little pride in being able to take in all the drek that needs to be taken in, letting it flow in one ear and out the next, not that it's not remembered. Your traumas are safely tucked away in my farshtunkena fabulous verbal memory (why the Yiddish, why, why? I must be nervous).

In fact, when patients seem to be having a terrible time spitting it out, I say, relax, whatever it is, I've heard it before. Which is true, I have heard it all before.

But do I want to hear it again when I'm not at work? Blank no. But I'm here on the planet, and a glutton for punishment, so too are you if you're reading this.

If you haven't heard about this and you don't like hearing about men who enjoy hurting, humiliating, and disgracing women, then tune out right now.

I won't go into the details. They're all over the Web (see the Craigslist/Jason Fortuny news story, Google it, or go to Women's Space/TheMargins), but get ready to get sick if you do.

Jason Fortuny disguised himself as a woman and he placed an ad on Craigslist saying she was into SM and that she wanted to date sane men who would beat her, hurt her, etc.

Within 24 hours 178 men offered their services, complete with tons of personal information and crude, disgusting descriptions of what they could do to her if she dated them.

Jason Fortuny then posted all of it on a website, I think maybe My Space, and took it down because many of the 178 men are threatening to sue him. He exposed them for all that they were, so the story goes.

The story on BlogHer.org (Melinda Casino, thanks, fabulous) and an editor Tish Grier at Corante Media Hub are burning that no one, nowhere on the site talked about the obvious misogyny. I guess they didn't like Jason's dishonesty, his "experiment." The better websites are bringing this to the media's attention:

The problem is not that he fooled men into outing their horrible perversions. THE PROBLEM IS THAT MEN THINK THIS WAY AT ALL, 178 IN 24 HOURS.

I thought I had an iron stomach, honestly, and that at the end of the day I could crank up the radio and drift away. But seriously, how did the world get this bad? It's looking worse than ever.

Why blog on this? I guess because I'm tired of hearing people think that rape is a women's issue and that women have to be wary, not get drunk, not dress provocatively.

No. We all have a responsibility to educate our sons and daughters about consent (informed) in sexual relations, to argue with people who think women "ask for it", to debunk the rape myths I talked about in previous posts.

See the comments below about informed consent. Another sickening thought is that sadists use a woman's ostensible consent to beat them. Are we having fun yet?

Okay, time to lose myself in a good book, crank up the music, or just feel bad, I don't know. I thought we were getting somewhere, but must be missing something, obviously.

Copyright 2006, TherapyDoc


corneilius said...

I agree, some things just turn your stomach, and the responses to jason fortuny's 'experiment' are one of them.
Can I just point out that the consent (informed) you used at the end of the article is argument that sadists use to excuse their abuse. one of the biggest BDSM sites is called informedconsnet. I consider that they practice biased manipulation but thats aother story.

Therapy Doc said...

Wow, I didn't even think of that. I sort of did, but tried to stuff it under my own radar since I'm so used to ranting about informed consent in relationships (a boy should ask a girl, even, if she wants to be kissed, that's how far I go, and ask even, about holding her hand).

I'm going to check out that website. Thanks so much.

Anonymous said...

I'm struck by something you wrote here...
You wrote, "In fact, when patients seem to be having a terrible time spitting it out, I say, relax, whatever it is, I've heard it before. Which is true, I have heard it all before."

While I understand your intention in trying to relax clients by giving them permission to trust that you can tolerate hearing sensitive material, I also feel it's a rather invalidating, false, and somewhat arrogant comment to tell a client "I've heard it all before..."

A- You haven't heard it *all* before...there are far too many individual, human experiences of suffering for one therapist to have heard every trauma.

B- No matter how empathic you might feel your comment is, a more vulnerable client who, in the moment, is feeling afraid, can so easily misinterpret your comment to imply what they have experienced doesn't matter or isn't meaningful.

Letting clients know they can feel safe sharing, that the material won't destroy the therapist, and that they can walk the therapist through it at their own pace, is far more respectful in my opinion.

TherapyDoc said...

GREAT points, ANON, and very well said. So when ya' gonna' start bloggin', eh? We could use you.

Jane Doe said...

I know you wrote this blog a long time ago and that commenting might very well be some "blogger taboo" ...Maybe it's better that way :) I don't have anything intellectual to add (yet). But this blog made me feel ...stronger... and I wanted to thank you for that. So thank you :)

Take care ~

(And by all means keep writing!)

therapydoc said...

Aw, thanks Jane.

Jerry said...

I think your abject horror to these mens' responses lacks the referential understanding of what men will say/do just to get laid.

Try this: put up a series of CL casual encounters ads at the same time asking for different types of sex: rough, role playing, gentle, etc. Then see which men reply to the various ads. I guarantee you that most men will reply to each ad in the same night posing as the best desired candidate for each type of sex. It's not that the guys are into each type of sex. It's that they're willing to say they're into it, just to get a casual encounter. If that means they need to play rough, they will. If it means they have to call the woman mommy, they'll do it. If she wants to role play "lost german tourist" every guy with an Oktoberfest costume will be at her door.

My point is, these men aren't guilty of having abusive thoughts. They're just guilty of being really desperate for sex.

Jerry said...

Also, I think your previous comment that you should have to ask a woman to kiss her or hold her hand is kind of bunk.

I actually did that for my first girlfriend; asked her if I could kiss her. She later admitted she thought that was weak of me and had wanted a boyfriend who was confident enough to kiss her without waiting for permission like a little boy. And generally, that's the human experience. I've never had a girlfriend who wanted to be asked permission for physical or intimate contact of any kind.

So, my question is, what on Earth happened to you that would make you be so wary of men as to demand that they get permission before initiating contact with you?

therapydoc said...

Jerry, I did this crazy thing, I got an education and studied women who had been raped and learned, not only from my research, but from national data on acquaintance rape in college, that women who say NO, really do mean NO, and yet, men assume that No means YES.

But they're often very, very wrong. So they go forward and give what they assume a woman wants, only to find themselves accused of rape.

And shockingly, the law is on HER side. No means no.

So it's good to ask.

Jerry said...

I also think that stating "no means no" in a draconian fashion like you do is unfair. I've dated a lot of women who like to play the game "no means yes." They derive excitement and pleasure from male domination and aggressiveness.

It's more rational to say that no means "learn her boundaries."

I can tell you right now that I would have seen a lot less action in my younger days and would have had a reputation for being weak if I had always stopped when she said "no."

And don't try to deny this darker side of human sexuality. You can cry rape all you want to proverbially cover your ears and go "blah blah blah blah I can't hear you!" But the truth of the matter is no doesn't always mean no. The sooner mental health professionals get a handle on this concept the sooner we can get on with our lives.

therapydoc said...

Jerry. I'm just trying to keep nice guys out of jail.

I've treated so many men who have bragged about the notches on their belts, the women they've had, as if it's some kind of competition. This transgenerational behavior, a tradition passed down from father to son, acting in this fashion is fine, and you'll never have a care in the world, assuming she's really meaning yes, when she's saying no, and assuming she hasn't got a nasty STD.

It's when she means NO when she means NO that will land our sons in jail. The laws are tougher now, and it's all because, to be quite honest about the hard data on the subject?

No really does means no more often than not.

Go with the odds, Jerry. At least tell your kid to go with the odds. Weak guys don't get locked up for rape.

Stacie E. Hebert said...

I find it the most interesting, and disturbing, that this appeals to men, at all, as well. And, I know about informed consent and consensual BDSM. The sad fact is that, either the woman wants to please men, and says that this is what she wants, or men put it into her head that this is what she is valuable for. Some, I imagine, have been abused as children or young adults - probably both the men and women in these situations.

In the end, though, I chalk this up to gender socialization, and I genuinely believe its the canker showing itself in our patriarchal society. I'm not trying to sound extremely feminist here, though I am a feminist, but this is what our society teaches people about what each of us is worth.

It's easy to blame the men. I say, blame all of us, and let's make some serious changes!! I'm up to it.