Thursday, November 6, 2014

Calling All Cats - Battery In Progress, Go Arrest the Man

"Every time I go to try to leave
Some kid's pulling on my sleeve
I don't wanna but I gotta stay
'Cause drugs really got a hold on me"

Eminem - Drug Ballad

Is there any more socially acceptable addiction than entitlement?

By now, everyone's seen the video of an actress walking around the streets of New York and getting catcalls every 6 minutes. You have to have seen it. It's a rule. If you didn't see the original, then no problem, there are now seemingly dozens of copies of it complete with commentary on how each and every one of those catcalls is like a rape against all of womankind and men should be ashamed of themselves, etceteree, etcetera. And unfortunately the only ones actually arguing against it in the mainstream seem to be the idiots on Fox News defending the right of men to act like mindless pussy-seeking bloodhounds. No offense to bloodhound owners. (Your dogs are ugly though.)

The problem is not the video in itself. We need this sort of thing. Hell, I was surprised... Manhattan, really? New York, constantly billing itself as the most modern, cosmopolitan city on the planet, can't get past this tired old routine? Too bad it's framed in the simplistic dualism of men as aggressors and women as victims, or it could have simply been one more useful tidbit of social awareness.

Harassment is a funny word. I'm a man. I've been "harassed" on the street. I've had homeless people follow me around asking for money, entertainers try to use me as involuntary audience interaction, activists trying to get me to sign petitions, shoppers with their arms full asking me to open doors for them. A couple of weeks ago I stepped off the bus and had a pocket bible shoved in my face. That certainly matches the extent of interaction the actress in the video suffered at the hands voices of those bestial males. So let's acknowledge right off the bat that the primary problem here is not male aggression or even as I'm framing it, female entitlement, but puritanism or some vaporous Victorian consternation that you would even allude to a woman's white-meat in her presence. The subject of ding-dongs and hoo-hoos is still taboo - has to be if sexual frustration is to continue as the magnificent tool of social and interpersonal control it's always been. However, the clip's more a condemnation of active sexuality over passive use of sex-appeal and that is directly anti-male given the prevailing human attitude toward mating rituals. Women sure as hell are not stepping up to assume the risk of rejection for themselves.

By the way, yes there is still use of passive enticement in the video, and you need only compare the appearances and accoutrements of the actress with other women passing on the street to spot its various elements. Subtle manipulation is not an absence of manipulation. She doesn't need to be in a bikini to be advertising her reproductive fitness or projecting false interest, any more than some stately office manager casually stepping out of his new Lexus or Mercedes should be given a pass on implicitly flouting his social rank and reproductive fitness. Despite that, I have to say the reaction of the men in the video is startling, but instead of going for the gratuitous "men are such pigs" routine, can we acknowledge just how damn... pathetic.. some of these guys are? The video makes a big deal of the guy who follows her, follows her, do you hear, minute after minute waiting for her to speak to him. Instead of just framing that as menacing, is no-one going to point out how degrading to him as a person it is to follow her around like a puppy-dog begging for some scrap of attention? Men are raised to accept this as their purpose, that their role in life is to constantly demean themselves by begging for sex, and the only problem anyone can spot in this is that it might inconvenience a woman when the sexuality she uses to control a few particular men also catches some random flak along the way?

There's a power disparity there, and it's not just societally enforced but built into our evolved drives. Women have to acknowledge this: the power handed by nature to them to control male behavior is an unfair advantage which must be counted alongside larger male muscle mass and not simply brushed off as their legitimate due as a 51% minority.

The video is popular. In fact, that's how I heard of it, as a viral video having drawn a hundred thousand views in its first few days. We are all quite eager to see yet another cliched slam against men behaving badly. Now imagine the men in the video weren't just talking. Imagine one of them grabbed her by the throat and slammed her up against a wall and started slapping her around... and while most passers-by simply ignored it, some, male or female, laughed or cheered him on. Because she probably did something to deserve it. Now that would make things more interesting, wouldn't it?

It turns out videos like that are not quite as popular, not if they involve women beating men, at least. While the catcall video broke 150k youtube hits in under a week (and that's not counting all of the hits on gratuitous reposts trying to leech some popularity) this one has 23k hits in five months. Maybe they just filmed in too trivial or backwoods a venue for their observations to be relev- ah, fuck, it's London. Maybe it's the British accent that's putting everyone off. How about 2 mil hits in six years for a nearly identical video by a major American broadcast network? Wanna watch that and note what the people who mocked a man being beaten by his girlfriend have to say? "He probably deserved it." We know, we all absolutely know that men are evil, primitive, brutish, filthy pigs who deserve whatever's coming to them. We know that because, well, did you see that video with the catcalls? Didja? Huh? You gotta see it. It's all the rage. All the rage.

A woman getting annoyed by men begging for her attention - outrage.
Men getting publicly mocked for being beaten - meh, who gives a crap.

To at least some women's credit, the people who stepped in to stop the woman in that ABC video were a committee of women. Of course it wasn't an outraged in-your-face "you're acting like a crazy person" burst of emotion, but a calm, collected, chuckling and polite aside and subsequent call to the authorities. I guess it's something at least. Their verbal interpretation of the event though is as revealing as anything of the bias into which we're all born. Everyone wants to call the cops on "you guys." Hello, police? There are "two people fighting on a bench" oh and by the way yeah she's beating him up. Yes, a woman standing before a seated man wailing on him and screaming insults as he cringes, and the first impulse? He must be at least as guilty as her.

We already know that. If you're male then you're born the wrong sex. You're stupid and disgusting and cruel and do nothing but abuse women all your life. It's all you think about and don't tell us it's not; we know better. Did you not see that latest viral video? This eagerness to clutch to women's unassailable moral high ground over us filthy pigs continues despite some of the most blatant evidence to the contrary. This time I'm about to cite a video which really has been getting excellent attention: same setup as the others, hidden camera, actors playing out a cross-gender skit of interpersonal violence, 7.5 million views in 11 months. Then again, this last one has a man beating a woman.
Sixteen people file past without intervening, male and female. The four who try to help her in some way (even the fourth who is clearly afraid for his own safety but still feels obligated to do so) are male. What's more, they don't do so by letting the abuse continue until they can pass the buck to the cops. Watch the actor frantically pointing out the camera to the two men who are about to beat him up for raising his hands against a woman.

And this, of course, is taken by feminists only as further proof of men's vile, primitive moral incompetence. We are after all not only metaphorically raping every woman we approach with our dirty lecherous intentions but also metaphorically raping women when we presume to intervene to help them. And of course if you do nothing you're colluding and a metaphorical rapist by association.
This is of course in addition to all the literal raping and battering of women we've all been assuredly doing because, well, we're men. And if we weren't assumed to be doing that, if such fodder weren't provided, then how would women feed their high-horse?

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