Sunday, December 23, 2012

Fifty-Five: Suspects

There are parts of the new culture that I find distasteful and cruel. The world of the gender warriors on line embodies what seems to be known as the "call out culture"---  a culture of deliberately and specifically "calling out" people for anything "problematic" they may have said or done. It's an arrogant culture, and one of bullying. "Calling out" is no more than bullying. It's about finding any perceived flaw in someone's writings or beliefs--- even the most minute or inadvertent vocabulary slip ---and attacking them with a full-on self-righteous fury. It's designed to enforce the most rigid ideological conformity, and it's intended to silence or drive away anyone who might disagree with the most ideologically pure faction. It's not new, of course. Marxist groups did it in the 1930s in Europe and America, and again in the New Left during the later 1960s. The Maoists in China made it into a ritual of criticism/self-criticism and self-immolation during the Cultural Revolution. I'm sure that the Jacobins did it, too, and radical Protestant groups during the Reformation. It's only and ever bullying, though. It's about finding even the tiniest flaw and then destroying or silencing someone.

The woman at the heart of the Dublin elevator scandal last year--- "Elevatorgate", it came to be called ---has apparently done an article wherein she asserted that no one who'd been drinking could ever give meaningful consent and that anyone who'd ever had sex with a partner who was drunk was guilty of rape.

This goes alongside another column I saw on line. Some woman from the Social Justice Mob "called out"--- by name ---a girl at the university they both attend. The author wrote that a male friend of hers had broken up with his long-term girlfriend, but had turned down offers from friends to set him up with someone or find him a girl who'd sleep with him to get him over his depression. He told friends that he only wanted sex in a long-term relationship. Then at a party one night, he took Ecstasy for the first time and ended up having one of those long, X-fueled conversations with a girl and ended up in bed with her. The author wrote about how this was a terrible thing, that she'd spent months convincing the guy that he'd been...raped. She called out the girl by name  in the column and ranted about how the girl had manipulated her helpless male friend and how the girl was no better than a frat dude-bro who violated an unconscious freshman girl. The girl, she insisted, should be punished--- not just thrown out of university, but prosecuted and jailed.

I have no idea what to say about these people and their attitudes. The ranting columnist is easier to deal with. It doesn't take very much in the way of cynicism to just raise an eyebrow and detect more than a hint of jealousy there. She wants to call in the lawyers and the SVU team? Hmmm... Is that because she lacked the nerve to seduce the boy herself? Beyond that, of course, the author knows nothing about Ecstasy. It's easy enough to recall the days when X (X, yes. It was only called E long after my day) was the club and party drug of choice, when long, intense conversations were the currency of the night. I remember how many conversations like that ended up in bed, for me and for others. If you're old enough, you'll remember the joke--- people on X announcing to a bar that "you're all my very best friends!"  The author made no showing that the girl who'd slept with the male friend had done anything other than talk and talk and end up in bed with the boy. She made no showing that the girl wasn't X-ing herself. Or even that the boy hadn't gone to the party after deciding that he did need someone, that maybe it was time to just take X and open himself up to something new. She took months hammering at the guy to admit that he'd been taken advantage of--- she was proud of getting him to see the light...or see things her way. There's no allowance in her story for the boy's point of view, or for the thought that maybe he went home with the girl because of the X, yes, but that he'd taken the X to help him be able to go home with someone.

As for the Elevatorgate woman, well... Her assertion is, well, fanatical and foolish. Can she possibly be serious? Is everyone who's had sex with a partner who'd been drinking a rapist? Can she be serious? If she is, many million people out there are now declared to be rapists? If she's serious about that, then...well...I'll join the ranks of multiple offenders. All through my youth and my university days, some very high percentage of the girls I took to bed had been drinking or taking party drugs. I had, too, of course. In those days, if memory serves,  drinking was regarded as key to any courtship or mating rituals at my university. Girls drank so that they could have an excuse for going home with boys they'd met at parties or at clubs. Boys and girls both drank to lose their insecurities and inhibitions. To go home with someone, to go to bed with someone, while sober was regarded where I went to university as a serious statement, as something that had serious implications about a relationship. In those days, to get drunk a bit and make out at a party or go home with someone was a kind of free pass. It couldn't be held against your reputation, and it wasn't regarded as being something that counted the next day.

I suppose the Social Justice Mob dislike the idea of sex fueled by X or vodka not so much because of the issue of consent, really, but because those things made it easier to have sex just out of desire and play rather than sex being seen as something fraught with ideological meaning.

The columnist called out the girl who took the columnist's male friend to bed as being overtly a rapist.  Called her out by name, which in this case is inexcusable and vile. The Elevatorgate woman called out--- what? Everyone who'd ever had drinks with someone before taking them to bed. I have no idea what to make of it, really. The gender warriors want sex to be stripped of anything that might be thought of as play and ritual, of anything that allows people to let go of inhibitions and insecurities. It's not even danger that concerns them, really. What enrages them is that there might be some area of life that isn't all about fevered structural analysis, or where pleasure itself trumps ideology.

I hate that, and I hate "calling out". Oh, yes, if the Elevatorgate woman has her way, then I'm a multiple offender, just waiting for the SVU enforcers to arrive. If she has her way, then almost everyone from the last couple of generations can be indicted as evil agents of rape culture and the patriarchy. She can call out a whole world--- meaning that she can assert her own moral superiority and enforce her own ideological agenda over and against the morally corrupt rest of the world.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Fifty-Four: Courtiers

I was brought up always to be polite, always to be courteous, always to remember the social graces. That's a regional and generational thing, and one that's stayed with me.  I was taught, too, that courtesy and the forms of politeness are key parts of any courtship, of any date, of any seduction. I've always admired the eighteenth century style in these things, of course. I do admire the forms of politesse, and I like the idea of social ritual. Well-done social ritual makes things easier for everyone. The structure of the ritual lessens having to worry about things, lessens having to feel insecure or uncomfortable. The ritual carries you along. You have to think less, to worry less. That's quite an achievement in human societies.

Needless to say, social rituals have their critics. The rituals have always been held suspect as "inauthentic", and as class markers. Those attacks go back at least to the Romantics. There are other attacks, too, these days, and ones even more bitter than the old Romantic or Marxist attacks on politesse. The gender warriors have happened upon social rituals and declared them a marker for evil.

There's a current designator for evil in the gender wars--- "nice". To be called a "Nice Guy" is to be tagged as evil. "Nice" is not just "inauthentic", it's regarded as yet another element in "rape culture".  After all, the argument goes, being "nice" is a a seduction tool, a way to undermine girls' resistance and make them feel obligated to offer up sexual favors.

There's this much truth in that, that "nice" has its tactical side. I'd never deny that. ("Nice" may well also be what one has as a fallback plan, when one lacks physical beauty or social status) I was brought up to believe that one was always polite and attentive and courteous on a date because those things made it more pleasant for a girl to be around you. (I'm old enough to have been taught to carry mints or gum that you could offer to a girl on a date.) The equation seemed obvious enough when I was very young. If you want someone to be around you, make the experience pleasant for them. And, yes, one is "nice" as an enticement. To be polite and courteous and attentive is a signal that someone is worth your time and effort. A signal, then, and a clear one. It's not that you'd be rude or harsh if you weren't interested; you'd just be neutral in that case. To be seen paying attention is to signal that you're paying court. I have no idea how that came to be seen as evil.

I suppose it's all about the idea of paying court, about the idea of trying to evoke a response. The gender warriors dislike the idea of "nice" because it's about offering up something to a girl in the hope--- or the expectation ---that she'll respond according to the ritual. There's a deep hatred for any ritual that evokes a response, where the point of the ritual is to bring someone in to the dance. Is that based on the idea that ritual is intended to obligate, and that any social obligation is bad? Or is it simply that the gender warriors see all courtship and seduction as inherently corrupt and evil?

I was brought up to believe in ritual and formality, and to believe in social obligations. I was brought up to believe that whatever one's physical flaws, politesse goes a ways towards remedying that. Yes--- these things are tactical. But a mannered and formal way of paying court, and of making someone feel at ease in your company--- how is that ever evil? And how is it evil to create rituals to bring someone into the dance?