Masculinity

One of Those Obvious Discussions I Get to Be Disappointed We Need to Have

Fight: Mikasa awakens ― Detail of frame from Attack on Titan episode 6, 'The World the Girl Saw: The Struggle for Trost, Part 2'.

“I’m really tired of looking at weird penises every time I want to make a dinosaur joke or see if my ex-boyfriend is alive. This is just a fairly regular thing many of us deal with on social media, particularly if we are women.”

Julieanne Smolinski

You know, guys, she’s not wrong. Pay attention.

And no, I really don’t care if it’s not you, or it’s not your friends. Sexual harassment is not a recent invention. We don’t get to blame it on the pernicious influence of this Twitter demon. Get it the fuck together, guys. Is this really the one thing we can’t figure out?

What’s that? We’re not lost? Don’t need to stop for directions? We know what we’re doing? Bullshit. Get it the fuck together.

No, really, think about it: We know what we’re doing and this is what we’re coming up with? That’s even worse.

You had to think about it, didn’t you? Seriously: Pay attention, and get it the fuck together.

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Smolinski, Julieanne. “Twitter Has Become a Park Filled With Bats and Perverts”. New York. 1 March 2016.

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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…)

A Disappointing Discussion

Detail of 'Ampersand' by Barry Deutsch, 1 September 2010.

This is not none of my business:

And even though I wanted to reply, to put each of those scared little baby men in their place, I held my tongue, I privated my account, and I waited in my car outside Ralph’s daycare until my hands stopped shaking and my heart slowed down.

I did this because unlike these men, with online pseudonyms, it’s me online. My face, my name. And because I am afraid of retaliation, I had to hide on the Internet the same way I’d have to run and lock my front door if this man had said that to my face.

That. Is. Rape. Culture.

It’s a group of men who are so threatened by the existence of female opinion that it’s nothing to them to toss off a tweet like that. Because, can’t I take a joke? Because, why am I such a bitch when a man just wants me to smile? Because, what business do I have posting a *gasp* selfie and telling men how to treat me?

This exchange, in the big scheme of things, is nothing. Really, these people are nothing to me and I could just keep ignoring it and pretend it never happened and hope that they let me slide out of their part of the Internet and stay on the sunny side. I’ve watched my husband die in my arms so on the scale of Shit That Matters, a few tweets… don’t.

Even in the big picture of the cesspool that is Twitter (Jack, dude, get it under control), this is nothing. Women experience worse. Every day.

That’s why this matters.

And this is stupid.

No, not what Nora McInerny Purmort has to say. No, no … that’s not what’s stupid. That she or anyone else still needs to say it is what’s stupid.

And, yes, I get to be disappointed that we must have this discussion.

(more…)

Overdue

Detail of frame from Serial Experiments Lain, Layer 02, 'Girls'.

One note about the passing of time is that the ravages of age compel me to recall―

It’s one thing to have swallowed “the red pill” in a small town in which your pick-up artist (PUA) exploits are likely to become general knowledge, but it’s another thing entirely to be an “alpha” on the prowl who also writes a blog and does a podcast about his conquests — especially after they become general knowledge.

Protesters gather outside Waking Life Espresso in Asheville, North Carolina, in September 2015, denouncing misogyny and the sexually harassing, predatory assertion of the pickup artist after the coffee shop's owners, Jared Rutledge and Jacob Owens, were revealed by a local blogger as PUAs who advocate and blog their ideas and behavior.  (Uncredited photo via Salon.com)That is precisely the situation that two PUAs — Jared Rutledge and Jacob Owens — find themselves in after Ashevilleblog published an article (based on information gleaned from an anonymous blog) about the owners of Waking Life Espresso and the online accounts of their exploits at Holistic Game and a Twitter account by the same name.

It’s not surprising that the West Asheville community is protesting and boycotting the coffee shop — especially the female members of it, who learned on Twitter that they’re not human beings so much as “an endless supply of hot young pussy,” or that “there are no ‘special’ girls,” merely “cool ones and lame ones.” The lames ones, according to the Holistic Game blog, “could help themselves immensely by reading a few classic novels and working out a little [but] they get attention regardless, so the motivation to better themselves isn’t present.”

(Kaufman)

―that not so long ago the idea of a pickup artist was regarded somewhere between being hapless, charming, and forgivable to the one, and admirable to the other.

This is, in its turn, worth mentioning because in the twenty-first century American society seems especially prone to forgetfulness about matters historical. It is one thing to point out the obvious but esoteric Schwarzkopf cycleα, for instance; but quite another to see a decade like the eighties so forgotten―fashion is one thing, but it’s not just Republicans who forget Ronald Reagan’s presidency, or the fights over abortion or condoms or even marital rape.

The idea of the pickup artist is particularly reviled right now, and for reasons we might consider exceptionally obvious. But it seems strange, in the age of #NotAllMen and #JustNotMe, how many of my peers seem a bit cloudy on the issue of how important it was for guys to get laid―by a girl!―when we were younger. And it’s one thing to invoke ego defense, but, really, what drives such suppression? Can self-indictment really be so powerful? Because, I swear, they’re not all running from memories of evils committed. And just how many self-inflicted wounds, such as it is, could they possibly visit upon themselves? Deutsch-20141009-detailOr is it possible that we really have been wandering so catastrophically astray for so long without even knowing it? The proposition seems unrealistic for both magnitude and necessary complexity. Yet one point at least remains occulted: How can we possibly forget?

Still, though, the question of the pickup artist has to do with refinement and ritualization of so much masculine privilege and subordinate expectation breathing life into one of the darkest and most persistent corrosions of our human clay. And as purity cult roars its disdainful lament, we ought not wonder why this most superficial art of charlatanry also finds itself bearing the sort of scrutiny it simply cannot withstand. The pickup artist is a distillation of what hashtags of wounded masculine pride would hope to ward off.

This is an unfortunate truth: The days of the pickup artist will never be over. But this is a time in which the mythopoeic station of this lonely, notorious art can be uprooted and redefined according to what it actually is and does.

And, you know, it really is about time.

____________________

Image notes: Top ― Detail of frame from Serial Experiments Lain, Layer 02, “Girls”. Middle ― Protesters gather outside Waking Life Espresso in Asheville, North Carolina, in September 2015, denouncing misogyny and the sexually harassing, predatory assertion of the pickup artist after the coffee shop’s owners, Jared Rutledge and Jacob Owens, were revealed by a local blogger as PUAs who advocate and promote their ideas and behavior via social media. (Photo via Salon.com) Bottom ― Detail of cartoon by Barry Deutsch, 9 October 2014.

α The Schwarzkopf cycle is a superficial frame for viewing history, starting with the period between 1953-91. At the front end is Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf, Sr., who helped overthrow Iranian Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadeq; the latter is when his son, Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr., led American forces in Iraq to depose Saddam Hussein, whose influence and respectability depended in large part on the American response to the Iranian reaction to Shah Reza Palavi. Explicitly: From father to son, it was still the same mission. And we are, of course, still working to clean up that mess, today.

Kaufman, Scott Eric. “North Carolina coffee shop on the rocks after misogynistic owners outed as podcasting, blogging red-pill enthusiasts”. Salon. 22 September 2015.

A Balassius Ruby to … er .. Yeah, You Know, Never Mind

Detail of 'Bug Martini' by Adam Huber, 12 March 2015.These are the times that try the soul; a silence in the chest that stretches like an echo of its own nothingness through which we wander groping at the murk until at last there rises that next pulse of life.

We ask ourselves, “Do I really want to know?”

So it goes.

Don’t ask. Just click.

____________________

Huber, Adam. “Boob Noob”. Bug Martini. 12 March 2015.