I’m sort of amused by Amanda Marcotte’s latest column.
At this point, it wouldn’t be that surprising to learn that the American billionaire class has a lavishly appointed ranch hidden away where, for a healthy fee, members can kick back, relax and hunt human beings for sport.
Well, we know that Hollywood depicts the fantasy lives of rich people, and that rich people make their dreams come true, right? This is old news, since Surviving the Game came out in 1994:
In October, Adam Serwer of the Atlantic wrote a searing essay titled “The Cruelty Is the Point,” in which he argued that Trump’s “only real, authentic pleasure is in cruelty” and that for his followers, cruelty — towards immigrants, towards people of color, towards women, towards LGBT people, towards survivors of school shootings — “makes them feel good, it makes them feel proud, it makes them feel happy, it makes them feel united.”
In a similar article responding to the sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, Lili Loofbourow of Slate wrote about the “toxic homosociality” that “involves males wooing other males over the comedy of being cruel to women.”
That cruelty clearly doesn’t stop in adolescence for many men. And it’s not limited to being a performance for other men, either. The pleasure of dominating a woman — of knowing she can’t say no — is one that’s enjoyed both on its own and in the sharing of it with other men, as evidenced by Epstein’s alleged sex parties or Trump laughing it up on the 2005 recording with “Access Hollywood” host Billy Bush.
The #MeToo movement has done a lot to expose the realities faced by all too many women in the workplace and elsewhere from men who are eager to use their social and political power to harass, terrorize and assault women. But there’s still a tendency to view this kind of male behavior as if it stems from an excess of horniness — as if the male desire for sex overrides pedestrian concerns like consent.
Welcome to real life! This Susan Sontag passage is appropriate:
To designate a hell is not, of course, to tell us anything about how to extract people from that hell, how to moderate hell’s flames. Still, it seems a good in itself to acknowledge, to have enlarged, one’s sense of how much suffering caused by human wickedness there is in the world we share with others. Someone who is perennially surprised that depravity exists, who continues to feel disillusioned (even incredulous) when confronted with evidence of what humans are capable of inflicting in the way of gruesome, hands-on cruelties upon other humans, has not reached moral or psychological adulthood.
No one after a certain age has the right to this kind of innocence, of superficiality, to this degree of ignorance, or amnesia.
There now exists a vast repository of images that make it harder to maintain this kind of moral defectiveness. Let the atrocious images haunt us.
I think what’s going on is that liberals weren’t bullied enough as children. My formative middle school years were in a Navy school overseas in the 1990s, as the autistic kid who didn’t stand up for the Pledge of Allegiance. My home town is very “red state.” When bullies target you, you can’t help but notice the gleeful sadism and the smug expectation of getting away with it.
Only now, well into adulthood, is it sinking in for Amanda Marcotte that evil comes from somewhere, that people behave this way. We’ve now had several years of Trump, and Marcotte is having this insight into human nature. It’s been about the same length of time as middle school lasts. It’s long enough to get some experience with the bullies being bullies repeatedly.
That’s all it took for a liberal feminist to start talking like Andrea Dworkin. Dworkin had experience working as a prostitute, so she could observe exactly the behavior that Marcotte is just getting shocked by (rich people sex trafficking stuff in the news).
As a simplification, you could say that “sex positive” liberal feminism has mostly concerned itself with female psychology, and “sex negative” radical feminism was more concerned with male psychology. Intercourse was largely a study of things male writers said about sex and did IRL. It was a work of literary criticism.
Only by ignoring what’s going on in the male’s head can women consenting to men beating on them seem “empowering.” It’s like…duh, don’t give the men orgasms for acting that way. Your goal is to see less of the behavior, right? Sexualized cruelty is the norm. How can sexually rewarding it possibly move us closer to The Revolution?
It’s a massive theory-of-mind failure, actually.
If “believe survivors” is important, why didn’t feminism get its own house in order and believe Andrea Dworkin when she wrote all these things down with great clarity DECADES ago?
We’re finally starting to get an answer to the question, “How bad will it have to get to break through the denial?”