My Blog Week: February 28 to March 6
A Word on the Week
Get Your Hands Off My Shoulders
People often react to “I’m sorry, but…” with indignation.
As apologies go, excuses-attached lacks something in sincerity. But when the question is charges-with-consequences, the spirit of law should apply. The accused has the right to know who accuses him of what; and he has the right to raise his best defense.
The best defense for male gropers, though, is not, “I was kidding around.”
The culprit is the culture. Not in the most immediate sense, but due to the long segregation of male and female experience. The trappings of gender are entirely a cultural construct. For anyone tempted to argue that masculinity and femininity are “born” traits, it’s easy to demonstrate otherwise. Think of Florida senator Rick Scott, maybe the most egregious adopter of GOP male drag. Then think of defeated Georgia senator Kelly Loeffler, equally representative of GOP female drag. Consider that she could shave her head and put on a suit and tie, if she wanted to. The culture would regard this a kind of kitsch, or a statement of empowerment, depending on the take. But Rick Scott could not layer on foundation and mascara, put on a bleached wig (with extensions), and ditch the suit for a blouse and skirt.
Women are free to add maleness to their repertoire, in career pursuits, appearance, and behavior, without feeling diminished; men, unless they’re very self-possessed, can adopt few aspects of femaleness without feeling (being made by peers to feel) diminished. All power, if anyone insists that this is nature’s plan, should then go to the stronger sex.
But of course, women are put down by the culture. And men, holding power, create a self-perpetuating permissive environment. If Andrew Cuomo apologizes, even badly, for his behavior, he is not working to change the culture that taught it to him.
Which brings us to Woody Allen. In the 80s and 90s, arguably his heyday, when every film post-Annie Hall was the latest, most brilliant thing from Hollywood, Allen was a popularizer of pop psychology. A couple of the novels I’m reading date from the mid-20th century; both address what was then the new ubiquity of Freudian analysis as filtered through the culture, and both roundly satirize it. The excesses, and the potent obsessions, were funny in those days, to non-subscribers. Today, they aren’t funny, because these ideas aren’t a novelty—they’ve become hardwired into a belief system, like anti-vaxxing and other “information” trafficked on a folkloric basis.
Why pseudo-Freudianism? Because the issue isn’t an academic debate. Sexual predators, many of whom belong to that dominant class which determines the culture, gain two things from it, that have become useful tools to them, in grooming victims and deflecting blame from themselves. The first is libido, largely a cultural creation, used, with jargon and alleged scientific authority, to make women feel at fault for not wanting the predator’s advances—this is where berating women for prudishness or inhibition (or not being “like everyone else”) comes in. At its claptrappiest, we have the persistent nugget that sexual feelings build up, and the pressure forces them out in some way, if people don’t give vent to them.
The other useful tool is normalization. If a man said of himself: “My libido won’t let me exercise any self-control, and when I’m around someone I’m attracted to, I have to put my hands on her”, that would make him unemployable at the least. And menacing to society in general. But if libido, this thing that behaves like a gas bubble, is inherent to human nature, the fault is broadcast over us all, and the predator can claim these “teasing” behaviors are to be expected, making the fault something like belching in the office, rather than taking people whose jobs require them to be there, hostage.
On Monday, a new Yoharie, inside the altered mind of Jeremiah Hibbler. On Tuesday, The Sword Decides!, Andreas speaking personally to his wife for the first time. Wednesday, a reissued poem, “Peeled”, from Rattus. Thursday, part thirty-three of Shine! by Mathilde Alanic, Annie accepting that hopeful faith is not as bad as the other kind of religion. Friday, Hammersmith‘s chapter eight, Hogben, with reservations, seeking advice. Saturday, part two of “Heckler”, and the character’s first assignment tackled.
Images on my posts often have a link to related information (click first image), sometimes serious, sometimes whimsical, sometimes in answer to a direct reference. Since people can be leery about links, I include them here: what they are, what sites they point to.
My Blog Week: February 28 to March 6