The title of the #metoo book is taken from Christine Blasey-Ford’s memory of the boys laughing as they tumbled her onto the bed and tried to take her clothes off. Her story sounded plausible to me when she testified, entirely teenage behavior in the ’80s, post-sexual revolution when women were supposed to be as extractive of sex as men, as avid, as careless, anticipating no harm. If she’d had a couple of witnesses, or friends, evidence, I would have believed her. Without, it just sounded plausible. And clearly, given the conviction that Bret Kavanaugh would prove another nail in the coffin of abortion on demand, her motives were suspect. I called it a draw, a shrug, the incident plausible, even familiar, the evidence absent.
But the phrase she used, “indelible in the hippocampus”, was damned catchy and serves as a perfect title for a collection of poems, short stories, “creative non-fiction” and generalized reports of sexual abuse of one’s self, friends or cousins.
Fully one-third of college students report being sexually harassed. Struck by that stat, I wanted to know more. This book, out of McSweeney’s, claims to be representative, so I read it. But if the essays in the Hippocampus are representative, we have defined abuse down to reports about friends’ experiences, imaginings of being a predated slave woman more than a century ago or a free black in the South half a century ago, being transsexual and being harassed by some barely sentient hick, feeling vulnerable on the streets, getting into sticky situations while blind drunk, being 12 and hanging around an unsupervised house full of teenaged boys, etc.
Takeaway? It’s not that bad. Not anymore. Cutting out being a slave or a free black woman in the South decades ago, almost every incident could have been avoided with a little common sense. But, say these young women, the world should be safe, it should be ok, to look sexually available and not have men respond to it. I should be able to get blind drunk at a fraternity party and not wake up with someone on top of me. No one should be able to insult me with impunity. I should not feel passive. My bad uncle should not paw at me at family parties. I should not be stalked. I should not feel vulnerable in my house alone. And so on. Yes, you should be that safe, and I hope you make the world that safe for your daughters and granddaughters.
I’m cutting out here the very real harassment suffered by working women in glamorous professions in the 80s-2000s. The closer you got to power in NY, LA, London, DC, etc., the worse it became, the more men took advantage, the more likely you would run into a monster. But this is not the experience of the writers in Hippocampus, their experiences are by comparison, creepy and nasty rather than criminal, requiring behavioral change, not jail.
Note: when Christianity was embedded in every family and community, women were safer, they were not seen as wholely sexual objects. Campuses were not free-for-all sexual buffets, nor were the streets a gauntlet of crude remarks and stalking. So there’s that. We, in western democracies, are experiencing the aftermath of the overthrow of the most effective moral system the world has yet created. Don’t call up Margaret Atwood, what you call “the patriarchy” will never come back, narcissism is just too seductive. Until you find you’ve given away your power to a fiction.
One has to feel sorry for E. Jean Carroll, shot for the cover of New York Magazine in her mid-70’s, in an attitude of hollow-eyed raddled misery, wearing a coat dress that has seen better decades.
Her mood resembles an African who has watched her entire village raped then killed, rather than a famous writer who has lived her entire life sipping on cocaine and Moet Chandon and having zipless encounters with horrible men like Donald Trump.
I started a couple of fights on Facebook over Joe Biden’s unrestrained pawing of women while their menfolk looked on in disgust and impotent fury. ‘Why the anger?’ said these guys, ‘Surely it’s disproportionate. He’s a decent human being.’
No, he’s not. He uses his power to exhibit behaviour that is demeaning, humiliating and frankly, cruel. He has displayed his character and now he’s been busted. And thanks to #metoo, he’s done. He won’t run for President and at every speech and confab, there will be women looking at him with their skin crawling. He deserves it.
Basically I think sex has jumped the shark. People are turning off – not guys and not porn of course – but in the super-culture, where only consumer choice leads. Amazon has started hiding erotica, the pieties of Hearth and Home, the W Network, Hallmark, Lifetime and so on, dominate television. Grubby, gritty, dark drama is losing its fascination.
Of course, in the further regions of the left, where that provincial and dizzyingly narrow-minded community is strictly limited to the ‘woke’, they are still fighting the 19th Century. And “rough sex” seems to be the new battlefield. One that sends them to the hospital.
I knew what these women were describing because I too have felt something like those slaps, those stings, that choking fear…..as they slapped my face, ripped my asshole, and bruised my vagina.
Last week I read most of a distressing piece from Longreads by a woman with the porny name of Chelsea Summers about her liking for having the crap beat out of her by a series of super disgusting “boyfriends”. Can’t say I finished, “too much gross” said a friend, but I was struck by her tone of moral superiority. Her boyfriends had the right politics. They were feminists, like all the #MeToo abusers, like the NY AG Schneiderman she voted for, who choked and beat his girlfriends because “they liked it”.
These men appeared to embody the fascinating dichotomy of enlightened politics and raw male sexual magnetism, and this bifurcated appearance was as important to them as it was to me
I was caught too by the fact that she lived the life I once did in lower Manhattan, working in theatre and film, going to endless nightclubs, parties, and restaurants. Few of us then were political beyond hating Reagan and Bush. Now they work for “social justice” and “community organizing” is the apogee of achievement. People then were daringly promiscuous, now by this report, they are rutting beasts tearing strips off each other and calling it enlightenment.
Conventional masculinity is still “rough,” and it remains tethered to a heady cocktail of sexual prowess, dominance, and aggression.
Summers concludes her “think” piece by stating that all men are evil predators by nature and prone to give into their deepest desires and are trained by the culture (and evil Jordan Peterson) to do so. This was the most risible statement of a veritable parade of wrongheadedness. No, Chelsea, most men are good, you just haven’t been out of your teeny-tiny ghetto. The men you meet, Chelsea, are vile and disgusting. Here’s a clue. Make it your life’s work to find the good ones. Then work with them, party with them, make a family with one, and a community with the others. Because I assure you, at the age of 60, you don’t want to be living in a condo or cabin with cats and resentment. Your encountering vile examples of masculinity may be a clue that your social justice wokeness might be anything but. Herewith the current cant of her nasty little species:
And let’s not pussyfoot around it: Masculinity is broken. When people understand that there are discrete differences between being a “good man” and being masculine, we have a problem. When men testify to abuse as an outgrowth of masculinity, we have a problem. When men overwhelmingly perpetrate acts of mass violence, we have a problem. And when men carry out those acts of mass violence in the name of their manly rights to women’s bodies, we seriously have a problem.
For now, Summers has survived having the crap beaten out of her and her heart torn out by the roots. But she is still entranced by the dark. Two more pieces of advice, Chelsea. First get rid of the silly name. You are an adult, not a “persona”. Second, get down on your knees and thank the Universe that your “boyfriends” didn’t get you addicted to drugs and turn you out. Because that is the next logical step on your “journey” into darkness. Become like the trafficked women and children who surround you by the tens of thousands in Manhattan, for whom ‘evil’ is not a recreational choice. Oh wait, you call them “sex workers”. Of course, you do.