A Small Collection of Depressing Thoughts

Detail of frame from 'Darker Than Black: Gemini of the Meteor' episode 4, "The Ark Adrift on the Lake …".

“But every now and then, when the irony is just too rich, we can also permit ourselves a moment to say, Oh, you felt too concerned for your safety to hold your little rape rally? That must be so hard for you.”

Mary Elizabeth Williams

Two questions insistently assert themselves:

A year ago, Roosh penned an essay in which he offered a modest proposal: “Make rape legal if done on private property. I propose that we make the violent taking of a woman not punishable by law when done off public grounds.” He went on to explain, “Let’s make rape legal. Less women will be raped because they won’t voluntarily drug themselves with booze and follow a strange man into a bedroom, and less men will be unfairly jailed for what was anything but a maniacal alley rape.” Somehow this didn’t quite make it to the Supreme Court. (Also, it’s “fewer.”) But in January, he announced an International Meetup Day On February 6, 2016, promising, “will be the start of regular meetups that serve men in a way that internet sites do not.”

The plan, proposed for “heterosexual, masculine men” to gather for “165 meetings in 43 countries,” featured a secret code question fellow manly men could ask to signal each other — “Do you know where I can find a pet shop?” They were then to proceed to the “final location,” where, ostensibly, all three of them would say stuff like, “Bitches, man, am I right?” in bro solidarity. But while Roosh insisted that “Tribal meetings will not tolerate the promotion of illegal actions and will not engage in violence,” he also did vow that “I will exact furious retribution upon anyone who challenges you in public on that date.”

(Williams)

The first question to mind is both obvious and obscure: Just what is the target market, here? That is to say, just how many men from forty-three countries does one expect to turn up to one of a hundred sixty-five sites to celebrate the glories of rape? To the one, it’s a glaring question. To the other is a question of what that population would signify. There is, after all, the bizarre discourse swirling ’round the proposition of rape culture, in which there are the factions one might imagine―that is, those who rape and those who would stop them―but also a curious mix of seeming righteous deviancy gone awry. Or, I don’t know, is that too flaccid a euphemism?

These usually posture themselves against some straw man indicting all men as raping lunatics; generally speaking they then set about proving whence comes that indictment, which in turn is themselves. Those familiar with #NotAllMen and #WhatAboutTheMen know the phenomenon; it is spectacularly stupid, yet somehow finds traction―to wit, one might argue that rape culture is a politically-correct invention of liberals and feminists to something something demonize all men which is why this video of a chimp raping a frog to death makes the point that there is no rape culture because it explains rape better as something we all have in common.

And if you followed that, well, right, you’ve probably already had practice. If, to the other, you’re stumbling through that as if I have just repeated some incoherent nonsense, and thus wonder why you should take it seriously, that would make you just about normal.

It’s the weirdest thing.

And it really is kind of hard to explain; argue against the proposition, and then set up all the evidence in its favor.

No, seriously: Infinite Prevention Advocacy? It’s not the feminists telling women to constantly be on the lookout. Nor is it feminists justifying sexual belligerence according to male prerogative or a man’s inclination. And while some us might say certain things are none of anybody’s business, if you watch closely you will eventually encounter the argument that functionally asserts a woman does not have the right to leave the house with the expectation of not being sexually harassed. And no, you won’t have to watch closely to know that one isn’t coming from liberals or feminists.

And the reason I mention this obscurity is quite simply that when people ask whence comes the proposition of rape culture, the answer is quite simply that we listen to the rapists, and it is impossible to ignore the tremendous overlap between what they tell us and the everyday misogyny these other people who want us to know aren’t misogynists insist doesn’t exist except in conspiratorial feminist fantasies.

And while it is entirely appropriate to consider one’s own expectation of just how big the openly and explicitly pro-rape marketplace really is, we return to the question of just who Daryush Valizadeh thinks he is appealing to. That is to say, we might have different ideas of its dimensions, but he and I would seem to agree the marketplace exists.

And this is important. At least, it seems important. Because while it is easy to encounter in heavy concentration in comment and bulletin board threads, rape culture denial is a curious beast. If I poll my social circles explicitly, we can expect to hear all the right answers. If I simply pay attention to what people are saying, little things come up from time to time. It is easy enough to imagine, not our friends, but it’s there. And it does seem to exist in scarier concentrations just a little farther away from us, but that also is simply what we hear about; the truly mundane stuff just doesn’t make the rounds.

Still, though, there is a tendency with societal regard for bigotry to push it away, treat it like some irregular phenomenon that occurs in pockets here and there, and what, really, can we do short of open tyranny? This, of course, despite the reminders, whether the Republican “overton window” on issues of liberty and justice, the bizarre discussion over guns and intimate violence, or merely the ongoing celebration of righteous, feelgood shaming.

But what really is out there? Certes, it seems worse in some circles than my own; that much is believable. But forty-three countries? Who would we expect to show up and celebrate rape? Even if I say, “None of my friends!” the question remains, just who.

And society said no. To the one, sure, it’s encouraging; to the other that’s also a bit like giving a medal for doing one’s damn job. Some things really are pretty straightforward.

Maybe “Roosh V” overestimated the hype.

But one wonders at the naked appeal. Just who did he think he was rallying?

Oh, right, the second question. Something about straightforward goes here: These rape advocates do recognize that men can be raped, too?

I mean, right?

How could anyone expect this to go well?

____________________

Marcotte, Amanda. “The GOP’s nipple ban: The war on women gets personal — and even more hateful — in New Hampshire”. Salon. 31 December 2016.

Williams, Mary Elizabeth. “Let the ironic male tears fall: The ‘make rape legal’ guys cancel meetups because they don’t feel safe”. Salon. 4 February 2016.

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