Yesterday, in response to John Derbyshire’s earlier assertion that sexual harassment isn’t a “real thing”, Feminist Law Professors posted a small list of (horrifying) sexual harassment cases that have come to court in the last ten years.
The problem with this is that the issue with Derbs isn’t his ignorance regarding the degree and frequency of sexual harassment women experience. Rather, Derbs has a personal investment in sustaining the culture that leads to and allows sexual harassment, sexual abuse, and rape.
This is the same dude who wrote that teenage girls were more fuckable than older women (women past the age of 20, apparently), and thus, more rapeable. I tend to look askance at any man past the age of 25 or so (I’m fucking charitable) who thinks that teenage girls are hotter than full-grown women, but a middle-aged man who does that and conflates sexual predation with sexual attraction? GROSS.
However, in a culture where men are allowed to harass, terrorize, abuse, and rape women and children on a regular basis without a peep, Derbs isn’t that bad of a guy for saying that it’s too bad bitches can’t take a joke or even that girls who are his daughter’s age are in their “salad days”. In a normal, functioning society, this guy would be shunned by decent people, even conservatives. He has to support and minimize rape culture if he wants to continue to think of himself as a good, upstanding person. He holds fucked-up views because of his own personal fuckedupness, and things like “facts” and “human decency” aren’t going to change those views.
Compare and contrast this with the observation that DougJ from Balloon Juice made last night about the conservative reaction to the Penn State child rape case. Conservatives are personally invested in the concept that orders and hierarchies are Good, and anything that brings that concept into question is shocking and even disturbing. It’s not just a political view; it’s a deep, personal, emotional belief that shapes the way they perceive the world. That’s why you see people like Ross Douthat and Kathryn Lopez minimizing and dismissing child abuse in the Catholic Church. It’s also why, when Derbs waves away sexual harassment, conservatives are prone to agreeing with him, even if they aren’t creeps like he is. Bosses are More Than other people, and women are Less Than men, and to question that is to question everything their beliefs are built upon.
Occasionally, something so heinous pierces through that worldview that they can’t explain it away and they at least have the decency to acknowledge it exists. However, they aren’t going to make the connection between what happened and their worldview, much less let go of it. Penn State is an isolated incident, not an example of how the fetishization of authority and order enables the culture of silence surrounding sexual abuse. They can’t let go of the hierarchy and their places within it.
I’m not sure which case is worse. Either way, you’re encouraging suffering for your own personal benefit. Then again, that’s pretty much the conservative ethos in a nutshell.