Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Hard Sex

I've said before how I consider myself a practical feminist. I have always said that the more militant feminists actually do a greater disservice to the cause of female equality than they do good. For a historical precedent, I look to Martin Luther King and his peaceful approach, basically revealing the racist whites to be the barbarians that they were, as opposed to the angry blacks which contributed to the Great White Flight.

I also decry modern racism as "fake" racism. It's not real racism that has a significant effect on the lives of otherwise upstanding blacks. We have black men in all echelons of power and prestige in various industries. Real racism has nothing to do with cops racially profiling, it has to do with the subtle, underlying assumptions that people don't usually think about.

This applies to sexism, as well. The feminist straw man of a belligerent, overtly-sexist asshole ranting about how women are all alike doesn't exist in any significant way. Sure, those men run gas stations across the country, but they don't exist for the most part. Instead, we have subtle assumptions that result in the treatment of women in a different way. This can sometimes result in ostensibly positive behavior, whereby women are gauged with less rigor than men.

For example, sports. Yes, it could be argued that men are better at many sports simply because they can get stronger more easily. But what about snowboarding or skiing? There is nothing different between men and women that should result in the wide difference in stunts, times, and successful moves seen during the winter Olympics. It has entirely to do with the men being treated differently. They're judged more harshly. The stakes are higher. The competition is fiercer. This is real, damaging sexism.

One area that's sticky, though, is sex. I consider men and women, as far as non-social programming goes, to be effectively identical. Social programming, though, is different. There is an undeniable difference socially and sexually.

For example, I present the case of Valeria K., aka The Black Widow;

A young Russian woman, a devoted collector of horror films and spiders, is on trial for sedating and raping ten men.

The police were shocked that 32-year-old Valeria K., a quiet good-looking woman from the city of Tambov, was the mysterious rapist who abused ten local men after poisoning them with clonidine, Life.ru reports.

Valeria, who has already been nicknamed the Black Widow for her love of spiders, would get acquainted with men and invite them to her place.

She gave them drinks with clonidine, which almost immediately sent them to sleep for almost 24 hours.

After that, she undressed her victims and raped them, tightening a rope on their male organs to kep them erect.

Waking up in hospital with clonidine poisoning and penis trauma, all the victims could remember was a friendly brunette who gave them drinks.

Finally, local police identified the offender and arrested her.

At present, the police know about ten of Valeria’s victims, although one of them refused to file a complaint against her.

“It was great,” the unnamed man said.

“I like hot women. I only wish she hadn't use the clonidine on me.”

The most interesting aspect is the thing I can't copy: the comments. Comment after comment on all the blogs is the same thing, where can I find this woman?! I want to be raped! The difference is so staggering. And even in myself, I'd be fine with it. I would love to be raped by a woman. I guess that means it can't possibly be rape, but still.

I don't believe this difference is cultural/social. The thought of a woman being raped is repulsive down to my very core, but the idea of me being raped? That's fine. I guess if I change the staging of the hypothetical rape, a woman forcibly penetrating a man anally sounds worse perhaps, but even then, it's kind of kinky/cool.

It just doesn't seem possible that it's cultural. Rape has been a blight on society in multiple cultures for thousands of years. When ravaging packs of women roam around (the few times it's happened), they just kill and steal. When men do it, they kill, steal, and rape. I even think that the psychological damage done to boys by priests has more to do with culture than sex with boys causing any fundamental harm. Why? Men and boy sexual relations has happened in multiple cultures in many areas on the planet. Homosexuality among young soldiers and older soldiers was common. There is a precedent to indicate that it may be cultural that the event was harmful to the boys. Rape of women has no such precedent.

So, for me, rape is a difficult point. I have become convinced that a militant attitude is in fact necessary to sort of punch out latent prejudice when it comes to rape allegations.

I was doing random research on sex and rape and came across this text book, first published in 2000, for college classrooms. Just Sex discusses sort of the history of student activism in the march towards equal rights for women.

The story of Brown University really drives home how far we have to go.

This was 1990, people! The Sega Genesis was out! It's stunning to think that a highly liberal area such as Rhode Island would be at the center of such a controversy.

Rape and sex are part of the animal human, which I separate to a degree from the higher-functioning aspects of the human. As a species that considers itself advanced, we must push aside some aspects of animalism in favor of a recognition that all of us, men and women alike, are merely thinking entities. To look at one another as people as opposed to a man or a woman. Rape cannot be allowed in that world.

I must say the determining if rape has occurred or not is difficult. Most of the time, all that can be determined is that sex has occurred. So we are left with a he-said she-said. But even here, in court, a woman's life can be brought into consideration, but the man's past history, unless a pattern can be identified, is out of bounds. There's something fundamentally wrong with that.

I default to believing women who say that they have been raped. Unfortunately, every case I've encountered, it's been eventually revealed that either the woman lied or exaggerated. That's very depressing. I want to believe. I must believe since any logical, caring person would err on the side of caution, but I've been proven wrong in all cases.

Still, it doesn't matter. In the same way that racial profiling is idiotic, sexual profiling is just as dumb. To take my experiences with previous women and then project their actions into this new person is laughably wrong. To do otherwise is sexist, and it is here, perhaps, that militant feminism is needed.

For example, one of the girls I knew who went to a New England university claimed rape. The case was handled aggressively by the University police, the local police, and the boy was brought in, fingerprinted, and questioned. He was suspended from school for the duration of the investigation. That didn't last long, because it was revealed two days later that the girl had lied. She told the story to friends, didn't expect them to call the cops for her, then kept the story going. The innocent boy's life was turned upside down, he now has a criminal record, and resources were wasted.

It was an injustice, to be sure, but perhaps a necessary one. If men the world over know that pendulum has swung very far in the opposite direction, and that their life could be ruined for even a minor misunderstanding, it will force men to be cautious when entering into sexual relations. We could go as far as Antioch College's famous manual to consensual sex, and while that's pretty stupid, again it may be necessary. I think that goes a bit too far. Rape is pretty easy. If she says "no," and you keep going, congratulations, you're raping her. It's not hard to avoid this.

This article from Newsweek in 1993 decries what it sees as the overswing of feminism and injustice against men. It's startling to read the barely concealed venom and condescension by the author. It's also startling that all of the authors are women. They lament the loss of sexual surprise and unexpectedness if these rules are followed. Yeah? Well too bad. When you're stupid and drunk, like most college students are, I'm completely behind strict, no-nonsense, unromantic rules.

It may seem to you that I'm about a decade late in writing about this, but I don't think so. These issues still exist. Sexism is still rampant. I don't even want to think about the number of men I heard who voted for McCain-Palin because they thought Palin was "hot." Gah. The pendulum is again swinging back towards center, and hopefully it won't overshoot it by too much.

I mentioned a belief that militant feminism does more damage than good, and also that hidden 'isms are what are truly dangerous. The Newsweek article makes an excellent point in this regard.

This defensive mind-set is at the heart of the escalating battle over date rape. Critics charge feminists with hyping the statistics and so broadening the definition of rape that sex roles are becoming positively Victorian. Women are passive vessels with no responsibility for what happens; men are domineering brutes with just one thing on their minds. "People have asked me if I have ever been date-raped," writes Katie Roiphe in "The Morning After." "And thinking back on complicated nights, on too many glasses of wine, on strange and familiar beds, I would have to say yes. With such a sweeping definition of rape, I wonder how many people there are, male or female, who haven't been date-raped at one point or another . . . If verbal coercion constitutes rape, then the word "rape" itself expands to include any kind of sex a woman experiences as negative."

Roiphe, 25, a Harvard graduate and now a doctoral candidate it Princeton, argues that a hysteria has gripped college campuses, fomented by "rape-crisis feminists." "The image that emerges from feminist preoccupations with rape and sexual harassment is that of women as victims, offended by a professor's dirty joke, verbally pressured into sex by peers. This image of a delicate woman bears a striking resemblance to that "50s ideal my mother and the other women of her generation fought so hard to get away from. They didn't like her passivity . . . her excessive need for protection . . . But here she is again, with her pure intentions and her wide eyes. Only this time it is the feminists themselves who are breathing new life into her."

The hidden 'ism that is doing actual damage. Still, that strong pendulum swing was needed. Humans as a whole never work in fine details. We don't deal with gray areas. We only move and change when REALLY big things happen. Look at school segregation. It took small wars to break out. I think that continued militant behavior is the only way through. Yes, it's overblown. Yes, it's paranoid. But I think that a fear that at any moment, a woman can totally ruin a man's life with a single word is what's needed to permanently banish this behavior from society.

If that destroys romance, at least for a time, so be it. Men and women will be forced to treat each other as people, as opposed to the opposite sex. Sex will simply be off the menu. Hmmm. Perhaps a university that's free and liberal in every way except not allowing sex between students. Have sex, get kicked out. Interesting idea. Would never work. Interesting, though.

UPDATE 6/24/2009: I was thinking about the Newsweek article and its assertion that we are reverting back to a more Victorian form of sexual identity, whereby women are pure and helpless and men are horrid brutes. I don't fully agree that women are being portrayed as pure and helpless, but men are being portrayed as brutes. But I see that as the point. Humans operate best on primary drivers. I think the biggest of those drivers is fear. If men are literally fearful of talking, touching, looking at, or otherwise interacting with women, that is the kind of circumstance that results in psychosocial change.

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