Sunday, July 26, 2015

On Creeps and Scrubs

"Wanna get with me with no money
Oh no, I don't want no scrub"

TLC - No Scrubs

Few people out there are held up as nerds' nerds, as the most forward-thinking, creative minds to whom the intelligentsia can look to formulate the half-formed suspicions and perspectives nudging at the edges of their awareness, but Randall Munroe certainly seems to qualify. XKCD will reward your attention span even if you only understand one strip out of ten. However, dredging up this minimass semi-conscious can also bring to light some of the more questionable assumptions of those who would believe themselves protochronistic.

Take this old strip, for instance. It's a pretty standard scenario, unusually sitcom-ish for XKCD. Man fails at interacting with women - because, as we all know, boys are dumb. I mean, how imperceptive can he be to incorrectly interpret her honest and clear communicative... sitting there ignoring him? Yes, you can certainly make the argument that the strip is simply poking fun at a couple of ships passing each other in the night, but jokes tend to have butts and it's not usually the character who gets the last word. The joke's on him. It's his assumption that's detailed and explicitly proven wrong, he's the one getting slammed and her punchline does the slamming. This is a joke about a dumb male acting dumb (written by a male (important plot point.))

Intellectualism has its blind spots, often defined by a desperation to find oneself on the right side of history. Race relations, environmentalism, religious tolerance and especially the perpetually salient gender issues all carry the caveat of horse blinders. In this case, decades of the constant feminist media circus and an educational system which indoctrinates boys into the belief of their own original testicular sin has created the assumption that any chance you can take to take a swipe at the male sex puts you in the humanist and humanitarian corner. Man bad, woman good. However, the truly sad facet of modern thought which this strip brings to light is the Procrustean male self-hatred in any dealings with women, the constant desire to blame themselves for any negative repercussions of a system which throws them in a negative light.

See, unfortunately the male character's fears are well-founded. Yes, the situation was condensed to fit into four panels but it's certainly no "man bites dog" scenario in a culture in which Homer Simpson meekly accepts Moe's decree that "we're all pigs" and a single wiggled eyebrow at work can bring about a sexual harassment lawsuit. A woman who decides she can profit from playing the victim can easily destroy a man's reputation, and she often does so for reasons pertaining to her own unanalyzed sexual instincts, but it is her choice. Women decide the outcome of attempted seduction by default in our species. Males' experience is a constant desperate race to subject themselves to women's judgment, an unending headlong rush against the implacable granite wall of female scorn. Very few men occupy the coveted alpha-male social leadership positions which constitute the bulk of male attractiveness and the rest can only hope to humiliate themselves into getting some woman to condescend sullying her pristine, divine female flesh with the touch of a male body which modern culture assures us is disgusting by default: "blocky, utilitarian; it's like a Jeep" to quote from Seinfeld. Women glory in their assumed right to call men pigs and dogs, and sexual advances from "losers" are indeed met with the same response as a dog humping their leg: a swift kick in the nuts.

Yet still, we expect men, who find themselves at a desperate social disadvantage, to assume the entire risk of courtship. Though it's men who risk getting dragged into court for harassment or attempted rape at every turn, we still ridicule men whose reticence in such self-immolation gets the better of them. That XKCD strip ridicules a cowardly male, a male who fails to act out his primitive sexual archetype in vying for a woman's attention while inviting us to sympathize with a woman who... is acting out her own primitive sexual archetype in awaiting men's supplication before her. We are invited to empathize with her beleaguered plight because, you see, the man before her has failed with fall at her knees and subject himself to her ability to destroy him socially on a whim, to declare him an unfit specimen or even a criminal.

If feminism had anything to do with equality, promoting female honesty in this situation would be at the top of its agenda. Get off your damn high horse, you who are protected by the legal system, by social assumptions of victimization and the instinct of every male in the vicinity to protect you from other males' aggression, and take the first step. Instead, men who have grown up their entire lives walking on eggshells for fear of bringing offense to women are derided for cowardice when failing to deliver their worth to female judgment by performing the most ridiculed trope in pop-culture: approaching a woman.

How dare that scrub shirk his scrub duties?

What's more, we even do it to ourselves because of course, as men, it is our duty to protect women from looking like the bad guy now isn't it?

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