I’m not wading into to a discussion here of the Supreme Court’s nomination and confirmation process; rather, I would draw attention to the kind of remark stirred by recent such “discussions” in certain quarters. A college professor at a Catholic university, for instance, tweeted that she hoped male senators who supported Judge Kavanaugh’s candidacy would die a miserable death, and that they would be castrated postmortem and their testicles fed to hogs. The “professor” was not disciplined by her institution, as far as I know.
Okay. Please consider this hypothetical. If I wrote (not quipped or popped off in private, but typed for public consumption) that a female who voted for X should be gang-raped, then bludgeoned to death, then have her —s cut off and fed to farm animals, I could forget about any white-collar employment forever and, indeed, forget about any job which didn’t involve getting to know said farm animals up close. And rightly so. Not only that… but some man worthy of the name, hopefully, would walk up and smack me into next week.
There are at least three reasons why women can spew hideous vitriol in the faces of men and get off scot free. I’ll get the easy one out of the way first—the one, that is, whose existence no “educated” person will acknowledge, least of all the “professor” herself. It goes like this (and I am not myself proposing it as valid). Women often get a pass for extreme misbehavior because they’re women. That is, they can’t control themselves as well as men and they’re more given than men to irrational outbursts. Those who object, “Well, the provocation is extraordinary if you realize what women have had to endure,” simply confirm the passive-aggressive stereotype: viz., women absorb punishment until they can’t take it any longer, and then they explode in every direction at once. The poor things.
To repeat: I do not write as endorsing this point of view. I observe, rather, that it does indeed exist; and I will go so far as to say that it nestles very deeply in our cultural subconsciousness. That’s why I will speculate with confidence that the “professor” sensed, albeit subconsciously, the presence of such a “get out of jail free” card in her invincible hand. Her punches are free. Their target is bound and gagged.
Now, the remaining two reasons for why savage, even insanely sanguinary remarks are routinely tolerated from female “intellectuals” and “protesters” need more space than I can give them at one sitting. Hence I am dividing my treatment in two this week.
Today I wish to underscore the immense role played by the sexual revolution during the late Sixties—but especially by its massively destructive aftershocks during the Seventies and Eighties—in producing the kind of irrationalism we see fueling the current plague of “misandry”: not “misanthropy” (the hatred of people in general), but the hatred of males specifically.
As my wife and I arrange our new home in lower Appalachia little by little, I’ve dealt with the absence of television reception in the room where I like to work out by hooking up an ancient VCR player. My tapes are often at least thirty years old. One cannot sit through a stream of commercials from the late Eighties without being reminded (if one actually lived through those times) of how hyper-sexualized the marketplace was. The consumption of alcohol and the purchase of cars, particularly, seem to have accessed the day’s most popular code for “picking up chicks”. Shaving products, too, didn’t appear capable of occupying a twenty-second slot on the screen without a “babe” running her fingers over the smooth male jawline.
How was this wave of meretricious stereotyping able to sweep through pop culture after academic feminism had supposedly chastened the winds of masculinity in the Seventies? The surprising answer is that one weather event directly caused the other. Without the “freedom” to sleep around “unjudged” which feminism bestowed (imposed?) upon young women a decade earlier, the Eighties would never have been able to project the Playboy Bunny image on women in every context where they were single and young. A certain decency had remained operative in advertising and entertainment even in the mid-Sixties. Now the world was partying. Females were supposed to be universally exuberant about the festivities; and any male who didn’t join in was a definitive square, at the very least—with reasonable grounds created for suspecting him of psychosis. (“What are you all hung-up about, man? Sex is fun—fun for everyone! Are you one of these religious fanatics who knives prostitutes, like in that movie? You should be in a cage!”)
Yes, that’s pretty much the way I was made to feel as a young man who wasn’t partying. I was the psycho. Once or twice, I was reviled almost in those very terms. My own case, I hasten to add, is not ideally instructive: I doubt that individual cases ever are. Had I not been thrust into a children’s school where socio-economic disparities combined with my natural shyness to render me invisible, I would surely have learned how to talk to girls at an earlier age. I would not have found myself single at a stage when the available women had either endured a divorce—and thus grown very leery of the whole “traditional lifestyle”—or else embraced since late adolescence the lifestyle of serial hook-ups. Yet so it was. I was a turtle in a school of tuna.
And so it is, furthermore, that listening to female intellectuals speak now about mass castration can almost make me forget my gentlemanly upbringing. I truly think I understand how a black man would have felt forty years ago when would-be employers trotted out, “Sure, we have lots of colored applicants—but this is a thinking man’s job.” Same thought process. Precisely the same. No? Tell me how it differs.
How clear it seemed, back in the Eighties, that men who did NOT behave like predators out to “score” every weekend were shunned by single women! Especially girls with a college education ran in the other direction if a young man happened to drop a favorable reference to marriage. As for the less educated… even to think of marriage before giving the sexual sportscar a good spin around the block was the height of folly. As a multiply divorced woman remarked to my wife some years ago, “You wouldn’t buy a pair of shoes without trying them on, would you?”
The irony in that thoroughly commercialized analogy would surely have been lost on all of the many who approved its logic. Here they were (went the new orthodoxy), freed of bourgeois inhibition to be themselves and enjoy life… and, in fact (for so goes reality), they had only reduced themselves and everyone around them to a dual client/product function. The two people in the hook-up were both consumer and commodity. “It” had to be “good”, or they would move on… but they were also “it” for the human “it” they were slurping from a can (as it were) or ripping from a wrapper, so the pressure to look seductive and to give pleasure was oppressive.
I know it was, because I viewed the results so often. As much as I was tempted to wallow in the self-pity generated by my abstemious lifestyle, I could never escape for long the recognition that the joy-seekers were in fact far more miserable than I. They imbibed drugs to fight depression. Some even committed suicide. A few, having quickly discovered in my company that the electric Mr. Right did not animate my terminally boring habits, appear to have found me safe enough to serve as a Father Confessor. Not the role I had auditioned for, but…
But it was from encounters like these that I acquired whatever understanding now allows me to parse stupid intellectualist slurs of the, “All men are rapists!” caliber. In the experience of many young women during the Eighties, sex under some degree of compulsion was part of the game. Not every guy got rough… but every girl seemed to have known some guy who’d gotten rough. One of them told me (how on earth did I inspire such confidence?) that a man had brutally undressed her only to find that Mother Nature had made her “impenetrable”—a discovery that she answered with a trip to the surgeon rather than to the Sex Crimes Unit (having been mocked mercilessly for long minutes by her “date”). Another girl, volunteering (unsolicited) her “first time” narrative, told me of being forced to submit in a sleeping bag while on a camping trip with perhaps two dozen youths. The perpetrator was a young man she had always thought “cool”; and even at the moment of confession, she seemed confused about whether she had actually been raped.
Enough of this. Have I illustrated my point, or have I buried it? Allow me to reel in my intended insight from these deep, dark waters… and, as the line shortens, I begin to see that my fish may have two heads.
For one thing, the charge that men are swine whose testicles should be fed to swine is a vulgar, brutal utterance: period. End of discussion. Authors of such squalid, rabid visions should be scorned as intellects—and, indeed, as mature human beings. I am a man, and I am not that loathsome animal. I’m sure I am not alone. If I were to say, “Well, the girls actually love a little force while it’s happening. It’s only later, when the relationship doesn’t go where they want, that they start whining about assault”… would my coarse remark not actually be correct in certain cases? I recall one feminist writing that there’s a difference between rape and ravishment. Hmm. With a No Man’s Land that broad and that gray, would my coarse generalization become justified? Absolutely not; for a moral principle forbids the use of force, even if some women sometimes find that some degree of force ravishes them in the arms of some men. A few people apparently like to be whipped, as well—but any hand that touches a whip always defiles itself.
Do not, therefore, throw me to the swine just because you have chosen to date nothing but pigs.
Which is the fish’s second head, or the same proposition viewed from the other side: women who came of age in the Seventies and Eighties often have a shared experience of sexual molestation because they chose, though perhaps with little forethought, to embrace the feminist ideology of the time. Their own conduct elicited brutal conduct from the kind of man whose attentions they sought. I do not say that they “deserved it”. I say, rather, that they were willing dupes, exploited by an avant-garde that they idolized in youthful folly when they might have exhibited more character at the risk of temporary isolation. I don’t hold children responsible—not entirely responsible—for succumbing to a charismatic leader who persuades them to steal candy. I would feel outraged, however, if the same children, thirty years later, decided to sue candy manufacturers for luring them into a life of larceny or for making them fat.
Show some adult responsibility. You made bad choices at a vulnerable time in your life. Condemn those who exploited you… but understand that their number includes the dispensers of really bad advice as well as the brutal adventurers who profiteered from that advice. Grow up.