Locked and loaded. Why, oh why, won’t guys spend their time talking about how they carry with them a guided missile that can’t be controlled?
Men arrive at this moment of reckoning woefully unprepared. Most are shocked by the reality of women’s lived experience. Almost all are uninterested or unwilling to grapple with the problem at the heart of all this: the often ugly and dangerous nature of the male libido.
If this strikes you as inherently contradictory, that’s only because you’re steeped in unyielding reality. How can “most” men be shocked “by the reality of women’s lived experience,” yet “almost all are uninterested”? Perhaps “most” means most of the men who live in the same house as the peculiarly woke author, Stephen Marche. Perhaps “almost all” means the men who aren’t Harvey Weinstein, Louis CK or Al Franken, and hence fail to realize their libido is “often ugly and dangerous” because it’s . . . not.
For most of history, we’ve taken for granted the implicit brutality of male sexuality. In 1976, the radical feminist and pornography opponent Andrea Dworkin said that the only sex between a man and a woman that could be undertaken without violence was sex with a flaccid penis: “I think that men will have to give up their precious erections,” she wrote.
No flaccid penis jokes, please.
The men I know don’t actively discuss changing sexual norms. We gossip and surmise: Who is a criminal and who isn’t? Which of the creeps whom we know are out there will fall this week? Beyond the gossip, there is a fog of the past that is better not to penetrate. Aside from the sorts of clear criminal acts that have always been wrong, changing social norms and the imprecision of memory are dark hallways to navigate. Be careful when you go down them; you might not like what you find.
By relying on “the men [Marche] knows” as his control group, one might expect him to find at least some solace. But even those guys don’t give a damn. As he seems to recognize, there are crimes and criminals, and there are “changing social norms” as reflected in women’s “lived experiences.” Criminal acts are wrong. Being a guy, by which I mean not being whatever it is a Dworkin would have us be, really isn’t worth discussing.
Christina Hoff Sommers explains this as a panic.
Farhad Manjoo at the New York Times says he has reached the point where “I seriously, sincerely wonder how all women don’t regard all men as monsters to be constantly feared.” Does Manjoo include himself? Are his female colleagues at the Times suddenly in constant fear of him?
Niobe Way, a psychology professor at NYU, told NPR that the only way to address the harassment blight is to resocialize little boys: “We essentially raise boys in a culture that asks them to disconnect from their core humanity.”
The panic has even struck the Girl Scouts, who warned parents that their daughters don’t “owe anyone a hug” this holiday season.
And the new Dworkins nail it down.
Soon after the Weinstein scandal broke, an anonymously sourced “S—y Media Men” list began circulating on social media. The blacklist accuses more than 70 male journalists of sexual harassment.
But the charges range from “weird lunches” to rape. The informants collapse important distinctions between criminal predation and unwelcome flirtation. The men couldn’t defend themselves – and anyone who tries can be accused of not believing victims, even anonymous ones.
But prominent feminist Jill Filipovic dismissed the scrutiny as “backlash.” Writer Roxane Gay disparaged “all the hand-wringing about …the ethics of anonymous disclosure.” As she explained in the New York Times, American women live in a state of siege. She suggested all men confess to “how they have hurt women in ways great and small.”
And then there’s the Emily Lindin contribution, that she’s willing to “pay the price” by sacrificing the innocent because of the oppression women have suffered.
Of course, it will not be Lindin who pays the price.
Assuming, for the sake of argument, that Marche is modestly correct that men’s penises (peni?) are rogue weapons that compel them to have “weird lunches” (I don’t have a clue what that means either), so what? And much as I appreciate Sommers coming to our defense, she puts far too much stock in our giving a damn about women’s own weapon: their belief that we are, like they are, obsessed with their feelings and desperately desire to meet with their approval.
If men’s libidos are weaponized, so too are women’s emotions. The feelz have become the shield turned into the sword, the explanation for why victims of criminal conduct are relieved from any obligation to act upon it, to prove it, to even raise it. There are guys who rape women, as the word “rape” is legally defined, and when they do, they should suffer the consequences. That someone failed to speak up isn’t the fault of the rest of mankind, but yours.
The rest of us don’t break the law, and we have nothing to be ashamed about. That our totally lawful conduct touched your feelings isn’t a weaponized penis problem, but your emotional reaction problem. One woman might feel a guy is a creep. Another might want to spend the rest of her life with him. If a guy takes you to a “weird lunch,” don’t go to lunch with him again. This isn’t something worthy of discussion, or harboring the pain of your lived experiences for decades.
And our daughters can give grandma a hug. Grandma loves her, even if she’s old, wrinkled and creepy. The lesson is that the indulgence of every feeling is not a mandate for society to change, but for you to realize that your delicate sensitivities are your problem, not some guy with a penis unless he crosses a cognizable line. And if he does, do something about it instead of wallowing in the misery of your lived experiences for the rest of your life.