...and it's not scientifically researched or proven - nothing quite as academic as that - but it is based on a vast amount of anecdotal evidence and so it probably does hold water. (Huh? Who called me Alison?) (sorry....in-joke.)
My theory? Selective humanisation.
Laura's most recent post has crystalised my theory although it's been lying around in my brain for quite some time. I've wondered for years how men (generic) are able to selfishly deny the humanity of some women for their own pleasure? gratification? sense of 'power over'? gods...I don't know why they do it... but then they jealously guard the humanity of other women who, they say, are their friends, or lovers, or relatives, or mothers.
Laura posted about some men she knows who she thought were friends of hers. They went to Spearmint Rhino - a veritable palace of female dehumanisation; a place where women are reduced to sexualised, vulnerable nakedness so that men can experience that powerful sense of faked sexual desirability. Men can sit around drinking beers with conventionally attractive half naked women pretending they like them offering them their entirely naked and gyrating bodies to make them feel even more powerful and sexually wanted - for a fee.
Now, Laura cares about the lives of women and she's wondering how her male friends are able to separate her, their friend - a woman - from the women they're sexually subjugating with their quids. She's understandably confused by their duplicity and says:
How do I know that you actually give a crap about me? Because you sure as hell don't seem to give a crap about all the women that are being exploited and abused in the industry that you are supporting.And it was those words "actually give a crap about..." that made everything crystal clear to me. As far as men (generic) are concerned, women are the 'other' and, actually, they couldn't give a crap about any of us. Until, of course, we become 'human' in their eyes through some kind of connection/ownership thing....one of us happens to be their mother/sister/lover/friend/cousin/aunt/significant other/baby-mother etc. etc. - they have some vested interest in our being alive... You get the picture...
Men (generic) are unable to see women as people in their own right, separate from them. Men (generic) are only able to see women as human beings in relation to their own existence - and selectively, at that.
I have no doubt that those male friends of Laura's love her to bits but their privilege and entitlement enables them to somehow make her humanity distinct from the humanity of the women they dehumanise. Laura doesn't see it that way but then she doesn't practice selective humanisation.
That men (generic) have the power and privilege to practise selective humanisation - and that they actually access that privilege - is evidence of patriarchy in action. We must all - each and every one of us - call the men in our lives on it whenever they exhibit it for the sake of our sisters (generic) because, quite frankly, if we don't, we're all selectively unhumanised - one way or another.