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Thursday, September 27, 2018

Sexual politics

The nation's attention has been riveted by the Brett Kavanaugh nomination saga, which we'll probably never know the truth about with absolute certainty. Most people's opinions on the matter seem to fall along political lines. Yet politics ought not to bear on the veracity of what may or may not have happened in a suburban bedroom over 30 years ago.

It's certainly possible Ford is telling the truth and Kavanaugh did lay on top of her and try to remove her bathing suit while in high school. The soft-faced Kavanaugh does not appear the sort of overbearing, high testosterone, aggressive guy you'd normally associate with such behavior. But, looks can be deceiving.

In any case, the Kavanaugh situation is not the point of this post. The point is that sex, by its very nature, is an awkward, messy business rife with the potential for blunders, embarrassment, hurt feelings, misinterpretation, insecurity, frustration, and regret.

And, the circumstances surrounding such first time encounters are often sodden with alcohol.

So the politicization of sex is fraught with the potential for misleading tropes and willful misinterpretation.

Consider the idea of an "unwanted sexual advance." That could just be a shy guy who at the end of a date timidly leans forward for a goodnight kiss, and the girl pulls back. Voila, an "unwanted sexual advance." If you want to view it in that light.

You may have heard of "regret rape," when a woman who willingly has intercourse later regrets it, often because the man never phoned her again, so decides to file rape charges.

In a sane world, it would be the filing of those charges, not the sex, which would be regarded as a possible crime.

One of the current battlecries is, "No always means no." You're not supposed to say this, but in reality, it doesn't always mean that. Sometimes it just means "I want to preserve my self-image as a good girl, but if you keep trying, I'll probably give in."

Or, it can mean, "I want you to think me more chaste than I actually am, since you make good money and seem like a good prospect for marriage."

Or, "I love the way you keep coming at me, it validates my attractiveness!"

If these interpretations didn't have a basis in reality, the word "coy" wouldn't be in the dictionary. To deny that some women play these games is simply to be blind to human nature -- in all its wondrous diversity.

Of course, there are times when "no" does mean no. No man is justified in using physical force to overpower a woman. But persistence, or an advance, are not the same as assault, and some of the accusations -- and effectively, convictions -- of the #MeToo era have conflated the two.

There's another basic contradiction which is a little hard to reconcile: who, for the past decade, has been the number one fictional sex object for women? The hero of Fifty Shades of Grey. Would Christian Grey have passed a Senate confirmation hearing? Seems doubtful.

Especially if he'd been nominated by Donald Trump.

It's telling that the men who most vociferously condemn aggressively heterosexual men fall into two main categories.

Some are homosexuals, like Ronan Farrow, who's made his name by exposing the predatory nature of certain men. Or Barack Obama, who did his best to institute kangaroo courts to combat the "campus rape epidemic."

It's hard not to think that the reason they are so vociferously condemnative of heterosexuals is because they have no sense of the types of games some -- not all, but some -- women play. There may be a little resentment against heterosexual men in general at work there as well.

And some are heroic defenders of feminism like Eric Schneiderman, the New York State Attorney General from 2011 to 2018, who in February 2018 brought a civil rights lawsuit against the Weinstein Company for failing to protect its employees from sexual harassment. Turned out his righteousness rang a little hollow.

In fact Harvey Weinstein himself, before his downfall, had long presented himself as a strong supporter of women in the film industry.

As Asia Argento found out, posing as Joan of Arc comes with its own set of risks.

This is not to say there aren't men, like Harvey Weinstein or Bill Cosby or Bill Clinton, who belong in jail.

Certainly, trying to force yourself on a girl the way Christine Blasey Ford claimed Brett Kavanaugh did would be shameful. But in the world most of us grew up in, not going for sex can result in social shaming as well. How many high school boys have you known who boasted of their virginity? (Though Brett Kavanaugh seems to have been reduced to that.)

To ignore the intrinsic awkwardness of sex, especially among the young and inexperienced, is to set an impossible standard for most men to follow.

Which may, of course, be the entire point of weaponizing #MeToo. To the Left, the beauty of this movement may be that there will always be something to hang someone with.

If there isn't, you can always just make something up. After all, as the feminists say, "I believe women."

But the idea that possession of a vagina confers credibility is as ridiculous as thinking that possession of a penis does the same. (Imagine the silliness of a t-shirt which stated, "I believe men." And, imagine the outrage with which such would be greeted.)

What's most wrong with the politicization of sex is that it ignores the very nature of sex: the physical attraction, the flirtation, the double meanings, the conversational subtexts, the messiness of it all. And most importantly it ignores the hesitancy and awkwardness, or conversely, the pushiness sometimes required for it to happen. And it ignores the forbidden fruit appeal sex can sometimes have, as well as the nature of arousal.

Most men, while having -- or attempting to have -- sex, have thoughts like the following going through their brains: "Look at those beautiful, perky little nipples....that ass is so cute...Yes, she's really juicy!.....Mmm, that feels good."

Apologies for the graphic content. But for sex to occur, these have to be the types of thoughts going through a male mind.

Here, by contrast, are some thoughts that don't go through men's minds at such times:

"Hmm, I wonder what Gloria Allred will make of this situation in a few months."

"Do third wave feminists approve of spanking?"

"Was I perhaps a touch too aggressive in my initial approach?"

"Is there any chance if I don't phone this woman back there might be repercussions?"

Were these the thoughts consuming men every time such situations arose, arousal would not occur, and the human race would come grinding to a halt.

To make someone's history of awkward teenage groping the crucible upon which suitability for higher office is to be determined is to open up a Pandora's Box of recriminations, petty revenge, half-truths, and outright lies. And it means willfully ignoring human nature.

That no public figure is willing to point this out because they are afraid of becoming the mob's next target shows just how out of control the mob has gotten.

A few decades ago, school administrators used to warn their students that whatever they did in high school would go on their "permanent record." This warning subsequently turned into a sort of joke, and the excessive seriousness with which it was taken was looked back upon with a sort of mirthful regret.

Funny thing, those warnings turned out to be true.