Wednesday, November 04, 2009

A View Askew

I just found out about the gang rape of a 15-year-old girl in San Francisco, early last week.

I feel pretty safe in assuming that this will go down in psychological and sociological history in the same way as the Kitty Genovese murder in New York. Professors for decades to come will discuss what this says about the human animal and the society we've built for ourselves.

I feel for the girl in a way I usually reserve for fat women watching The View. I can't even begin to imagine what the experience was like. I mean that phrase truthfully and without cliche. I can't even imagine. I think I would rather be attacked by a lion and killed, at least the goal of the lion is to end it. Here, the torment was the goal. I feel like crying.

My partner and I have had arguments about the nature of life vis a vis sex. I have argued that things like "Gift of Fear" and the argument that women lead a different life from men to be foolish and fear-mongering. She has said otherwise, and says that I may have a hard time understanding this since I was always not only a male, but a large, loud male. I've never felt fear of my fellow humans.

Still, I argued that the fear she and other women feel is primarily the result of fear programming in our brain going haywire since there is very little to be afraid of, anymore. We no longer have to worry about sabertooth tigers and whatnot, so our brain finds things of which to be afraid.

This wasn't rooted in sexism. This was rooted in the deep-seated belief that men and women are not from Mars and Venus. That our lives are fundamentally the same. The world is identical to us both. Because, if that's not the case, we are not equal. We are different. The world, for men and women, is fundamentally and essentially a different experience.

This case has basically changed that perspective. While I still think that most of the fear that women, and truly people in general, feel about the world is the result of a scare-obsessed media and evolutionary mechanisms meant to keep us safe in the wild, this does not happen to men.

There has never been a case of women gang-raping a drunk man and then beating him nearly to death. It just doesn't happen. Say what you will about the baseness of the men involved. Argue that they are an extreme minority. Argue that women are just as likely to get killed by a coconut as be gang-raped. I'll agree with pretty much all of it. With just a modicum of caution, women will likely never be raped or even assaulted.

But that's the thing. That modicum of caution. That one, little inch. That seemingly insignificant thing permanently and inexorably separates men from women. Men need not exercise that caution. They have no need or worry. But women do. Women and men are fundamentally different. Their world, my partner's world, is fundamentally different from my own.

And that makes me want to cry.

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