Friday, September 02, 2005


Just Desserts?

Ooh...probably, though I wonder how effective this will be overall, given that it assumes the act will be done in extreme haste. Sometimes, maybe...but of course, it's more about power, and one assumes there'd be a steep learning curve on this sucker.

...point for discussion.

Another: I recently found myself involved in a conversation in which my interlocutor insisted that what happened to the Native Americans could not possibly be termed "genocide," because the term had yet to be coined. Now, I've not yet studied Heidegger, and would not pretend to know precisely what he was on about with the phrase "language is the house of being," (hint: any clues on this sucker would be appreciated...), but I always kind of assumed this was fairly metaphysical in nature, and did not suggest that a thing could not exist simply because it could not be spoken. Oddly, a term that seems more specific to the events in Germany during WWII--holocaust--was around, though honestly, I would have been more likely to refer to the Native American experience using the former term much more quickly than the latter.

It's a fairly pedantic objection, in my mind...but, what think you?

Heidegger's emperor had no clothes. That's what I think.
Well, first off, I'm all for personal security solutions in general, although it has been pointed out that there are simple - and ugly - ways for a would-be rapist to check for and disarm this particular device, and that it might actually tend to escalate the violence in such cases. So I'm on the fence about whether this is actually a good idea or not. I guess I would cautiously chalk this up to personal choice - like owning a gun. It might save you, or it might be your undoing. But I guess it's your risk to weigh. Personally, I’d rather die fighting than begging. But that’s just me. I’m ornery that way.

I would also chime in at this point that the accepted western PC mantra "rape is not about sex, it's about power" may not be terribly useful in a part of the world where it is so prevalent. Power may the instrument, but I fear the real danger is that the wide-spread incidence is based exactly on the fact that rape is seen as an "acceptable" form of sexual release by a dangerously large percentage of the population. Complicated further by the ignorant belief that sex with a virgin can cure aids. This is a part of the world that has lived in brutal circumstances for a long time, and I frankly don’t see much hope that the young men will find cause to suppress their tendency to aggressiveness there anytime soon. If that’s true, then I would guess that the main hope to begin reversing the rape trend would lie in addressing the sexual nature of the act, and countering the rumors. These men need to be shamed into giving up rape as a normative solution for release (they need to believe that it is both wrong, and a sign of weakness on their part), and they need to be given concrete reasons to fear the consequences that will override superstitious excuses. In other words, I think fixing the power imbalance is a long way off – but a cleverly implemented viral campaign of new & improved sexual taboos might serve to begin addressing the rape issue.

As for your second question, I find it preposterous to assert that you can’t discuss the past with language of the future. Or that only culturally relative terms can be useful. How, then, can we discuss the Pliocene? Did gravity not exist before Newton? Applying new information to old concepts is what learning is all about.

WTF? Heidegger without clothes? *shudder*...

Randall, I'm right there with you, except that I did have the privelege of speaking to Lindsey Collen, who asked the question (quite pertinent, to my mind)...why would a man want to sully his own sexuality in such a manner?

Doesn't necessarily help much on the practical front, but damn, it is a good question...
"why would a man want to sully his own sexuality in such a manner?"

Exactly the mindset I meant to foster. Obviously the men in these circumstances don't see the act as reflecting poorly on their own sexuality. But vanity and insecurity can be powerful normative tools. Telling young men they should not pleasure themselves in destructive ways because it is "wrong" has never been terribly successful. Even the element of potential danger to the perpetrators can work against the common good when the mob mentality takes over and thugs begin challenging each other to prove themselves precisely because the act is forbidden, brutal, and dangerous.

Peer ridicule, on the other hand, can strongly influence behavior. A carefully waged campaign to question the masculinity of anyone who has to "take it by force" seems in order. Given the susceptibility of the men in question to the vagaries of rumor, one might suspect they would be especially vulnerable to certain kinds of viral marketing as social conditioning.
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