Enablers

11 Nov

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.

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9 Responses to “Enablers”

  1. nedbeaumontjr 11.11.2011 at 19:59 #

    However, in a culture where men are allowed to harass, terrorize, abuse, and rape women and children on a regular basis without a peep

    Not true! A man raping boys at Penn State may actually be tried for this act, only ten years after the fact! The system works! …veeeeeeeeeeeery baaaaaaaaaaadly…

  2. Dragon-King Wangchuck 11.11.2011 at 22:04 #

    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.

    Hold on to your hats because you’ll need them to barf into. Yeah, they’ll acknowledge that sometimes bad shit occurs despite TEH BEST SYSTEM EVAR11!!!USAUSAUSA!!! But they are incapable of accepting even teh least “wrongness” on their side. Teh uncompromising dualism of absolute moral right and wrong that is teh centre of their worldviews demands it. So you know where this is going to go – “feature not a bug”.

    Remember when teh Obion County fire department watch teh Cranick’s house burn to teh ground over sevety five dollars? They literally claimed that this was a good thing – that society was better off for it.

    And that incident may be a lesser evil than a child rapist running a charity for young kids and having his transgressions covered up by an entire hierarchy of d00ds what thinks college football is moar important than childrens not getting fucked in teh ass. Only three dogs and a cat died. And only one family was ruined. But it’s coming. I dunno how teh rationalization for it is going to work – but they’ll find one. They are really good at that.

  3. Big Bad Bald Bastard 11.12.2011 at 01:58 #

    A lot of them still will never get it. Some right-wing pundit opined that the grad assistant who failed to intervene when he saw a rape in progress, then failed to notify the police, was motivated by fear of being called a homophobe, rather than the obvious motivation- he didn’t want to “rock the boat”, didn’t want to shed an unflattering light on the program or the institution.

    It’s like when Rick Santorum blamed sexual abuse in the Boston archdiocese on a “liberal mindset” rather than on a legacy of sexual hangups and refusal to question authority.

    Evil cobags, every one…

  4. John Revolta 11.13.2011 at 04:24 #

    Penn State is an isolated incident

    The more I think about it, the more I wonder…………………………

  5. TruculentandUnreliable 11.13.2011 at 14:36 #

    JR–It’s not. Shit like this is as widespread and as common as it gets, whether we’re talking about families or the Catholic Church. Once I started talking to people about this shit a few years ago, I realized how lucky I was to have gone through life with only one or two relatively minor incidents of sexual assault/abuse, and both were when I was an adult.

    Shorter me: I should’ve put quotation marks around “isolated incident”.

  6. TruculentandUnreliable 11.13.2011 at 14:57 #

    (BTW, I’m commenting on my phone, so any weirdness or typos are not the result of being drunk. Yet).

    B^4, the absolute awfulness of saying McQueary didn’t report the rape for fear of being called a homophobe is enough to make me cry. How sick do you have to be to make an argument like that? Not only are you completely ignoring the concept of consent in a very real and creepy way, but you’re also using the victimization of childre as a political point against people you hate. Then, of course, when something terrible that’s cause by conservatives happens, they’ll accuse us of trying to score political points when we point out the truth.

    And yes, they’ll find a way to protect the system–at best, they’ll write it off as an isolated incident, as I wrote earlier. At worst, they’ll blame The Ghey, as they already seem to be doing. (BTW, anybody who doesn’t think Sandsuky would’ve victimized girls if he could’ve gotten his hands on them knows blissful fuckall about child sexual abuse.)

  7. TruculentandUnreliable 11.13.2011 at 15:08 #

    I just realized tha I made it sound like I go around asking people about sexual abuse and rape they’ve experienced. It’s more accurate to say that in my personal experience, people (at least women) are willing to talk about this kind of thing fairly freely, which is good.

    I also seem to be the type of person people confide in, but I don’t know if my experience is much different from other women’s in this case.

  8. Substance McGravitas 11.14.2011 at 19:51 #

    It’s not just a political view; it’s a deep, personal, emotional belief that shapes the way they perceive the world.

    That’s not to take away from the thought that a whole bunch of them might also be total assholes.

  9. Nomi 01.02.2012 at 07:05 #

    For several jobs I had, I interviewed people about their histories, childhood & later, and found many people sharing experiences of sexual abuse….some times by a relative (or more than one) or family friend.

    Also, more than one Latino man disclosed this sort of trauma to me, and I’m a white woman…

    I think it is true, that people often do not share various traumas, from an intuitive wish to protect the listeners. If one conveys a sincere willingness to hear, then the stories are present….

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