Anthropology

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.

(more…)

The Depth of Sickness

Women and children from the minority Yazidi sect, fleeing the violence in the Iraqi town of Sinjar, near the Iraqi-Syrian border crossing in Fishkhabour, Dohuk province, August 14, 2014. (Photo: Reuters/Youssef Boudlal)

That we do not dispute this or, really, any other aspect of David Frankfurter’s analysis only adds to our horror:

The social context may be just as important for understanding this new policy of sexual enslavement. One thing learned from the study of the small religious movements that have sprung up in the West over the past few centuries is the systematic restructuring of sexual relations that leaders have often demanded at an early point in the movement. This may involve group celibacy or polygamy, the exclusive sexual rights of the leader, or free sexual relations. It can often mean dissolution of prior marriages.

From the Jewish Frankists to the Mormons, the Shakers, the Branch Davidians and others, there is a pattern of inverting or eliminating prior sexual and emotional bonds to establish a new order, administered through the leader and his acolytes at the most intimate level.

This could easily apply to Islamic State’s sexual enslavement policies. The group is declaring its own institutional domination over both the bodies of women it has captured and the sexual gratification of its recruits — as an explicit feature of its new religious utopia.

This is why.

The thing is that this isn’t just Daa’ish or Boko Haram; they are just particularly ugly, heavily-armed manifestations of a terrifying proposition―deliberate conditioning of females for sexual abuse. I wonder if they would put down their rifles in exchange for a reality television show: 3,000 Slaves and Counting.

Unfortunately, that’s not simply a crass joke.

Neither is the common bond between Western purity cult and Daa’ish; assertions of moral and, in some aspects literal, ownership of females is not some random phenomenon that happened within the Daa’ish experience, but, rather, a driving purpose of patriarchal societies. In the end, it is very possibly the reason why.

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Image note: Women and children from the minority Yazidi sect, fleeing the violence in the Iraqi town of Sinjar, near the Iraqi-Syrian border crossing in Fishkhabour, Dohuk province, August 14, 2014. (Photo: Reuters/Youssef Boudlal)

Frankfurter, David. “The true motives behind Islamic State’s use of sexual slavery”. Reuters. 8 September 2015.

Required Reading: Equal Protection Edition

Contemplation of Justice

This is pretty much required reading. William N. Eskridge Jr., of Yale Law School, offers an opinion in favor of Amendment XIV recognition of same-sex marriage in Ohio. The middle of the article stands out:

Justice Anthony Kennedy said: “This definition has been with us for millennia. It’s very difficult for the court to say, oh well, we know better.” Justice Samuel Alito asked: “How do you account for the fact that, as far as I’m aware, until the end of the 20th century, there never was a nation or a culture that recognized marriage between two people of the same sex?”

All of the justices and counsel addressing this point accepted the premise that no culture had ever recognized same-sex marriage. That premise is incorrect.

First- and second-century historians Suetonius and Tacitus (disapprovingly) documented official same-sex marriages in imperial Rome. Some modern historians have found plausible evidence of such marriages among Egyptians, Canaanites and Hittites and on islands in ancient Greece. So it is not right to say that the Western tradition had never entertained marriages between people of the same sex until the 20th century.

The evidence is overwhelming for non-Western cultures. In their 1951 book “Patterns of Sexual Behavior,” anthropologists Clellan Ford and Frank Beach surveyed 191 world cultures and found many examples of same-sex intimacy occurring “within the framework of courtship and marriage.” They were mainly referring to “berdache” marriages, in which a man would marry another man who performed domestic duties or a woman would marry a woman who worked outside the home. Researchers have demonstrated that a majority of Native American tribes (as well as many tribal people elsewhere in the world) have recognized such marriages at points in their histories.

Anthropologists have also documented the phenomena of “woman marriage” in African societies, in which a wealthy woman marries another woman and then secures her impregnation, thereby generating heirs. Anthropologist Denise O’Brien reports that such marriages have been recognized in more than 30 African cultures.

There are other examples (some more equivocal), but these show that there has been no universal definition of marriage that excludes same-sex couples.

To the one, it should be noted that Prof. Eskridge also authored an amicus brief in support of the Obergefell petitioners on the question of the Fourteenth. And while the interest of amici might be a bit thin, the brief still makes for excellent reading.

To the other, we should remember what is at stake: Ohio is trying to unmarry a dead man.

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Eskridge Jr., William N. “The 14th Amendment should cover same-sex marriage in Ohio”. The Washington Post. 19 June 2015.

Eskridge Jr., William N. and Ilya Shapiro. “Brief of Amici Curiae CATO Institute, William N. Eskridge Jr., and Steven Calabresi in Support of Petitioners”. Supreme Court of the United States. 6 March 2015.

A Fair Point

→"I didn't 'evolve' from no monkey! I descend from two people cursed for disobeying God, and the incestuous unions of their children!" | (I never understood the 'argument from dignity'.)← ('Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal' by Zach Weiner, 21 May 2015.)Two notes:

(1) He’s got a point.

(2) Argument from Dignity? Is that what it’s called? Really?

Something about Scott Walker goes here, but something else tells me that’s not quite right.

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Weiner, Zach. “Descent”. Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal. 21 May 2015.

Corpse Trafficking

‘Tis a grim headline, to be certain: “11 People Arrested for Supplying Dead Unmarried Men with Dead Brides”. To the other, there is always a little more to a story than we might glean from such a brief statement. Charles Mudede does, in fact, offer some fine insight into the custom of ghost brides

Though the practice is very old and maintained mostly by people who live in rural China, it is by no means barbaric. Indeed, because civilization only begins when the living live with their dead—meaning, when the living are settled rather than nomadic, we can see in the ghost marriage something like the deep and wonderfully twisted roots of the modern urban consciousness.

The city is about a very close relationship between inhabitants who are made of matter and those made from the faintest stuff of memories—ghosts. Inhabited and uninhabited buildings, rooms, hallways, staircases are all haunted by those lost in the past of those buildings, rooms, hallways, and staircases. You can only remove ghosts by demolishing a building. This is why it is utterly ridiculous to fear ghosts in the forests. What is there to haunt? Trees? Moose? Mud? What nonsense. Humans are the haunted animal. Humans live in houses, apartments, castles, and the cities of their dead.

—except it is unclear that general perceptions of diverse death cults are so problematic insofar as it’s one thing for families to get together and marry a dead daughter to a dead son, as such, but quite another to go stealing corpses in order to facilitate the custom.

Which, in turn, raises a perverse question about human rights after death.

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Mudede, Charles. “11 People Arrested for Supplying Dead Unmarried Men with Dead Brides”. Slog. 31 October 2014.