There’s a new hue and cry to distract the American couch potato: who groped whom, and when?
When is sex not sex? Marsha Gessen writing for the New Yorker, makes the point that with the increasingly permissive attitudes towards sex in America, Americans have mounted a new war: the war on sex.
So far much of the brouhaha seems to center around transgressions by powerful white men in media and politics. Titillation is supplied by the when? by whom? and where in the pussygrab to rape spectrum. (The victim is immaterial—as Lady Bracknell would have said.)
What is totally missing from this hysteria orgy has to do with discussion of asymmetry: the asymmetry that calibrates issues of power based on class, and on seniority. In particular: the working woman who to keep her job must swallow her feelings and her pride by putting up and shutting up. That looks to me like class warfare.
The 14-year-old kid on the bus yesterday with a look on her face of panic and utter despair, and who tells the bus driver that she’s sick, but who really is being assaulted in her bed every night by a drunken step father, what kind of warfare is that? He’s older, more powerful, and her mom won’t believe her because her mom is also a victim who has to put up and shut up. How will the 911 hook and ladder respond to that after it comes roaring, lights flashing down the street? We can’t exactly call it class warfare, but it is the kind of abuse characterized by asymmetry.
Taking the longer view, today’s story is a story with bearing on social organization: how a society fits together to move the cogs that keep it going. What are those cogs? If a society gets serious about ending sexual abuse, it will have to look deeper: at its reliance on both hierarchy and patriarchy to keep it going. And if it is really serious—beyond its need to be alternatively titillated and/or scandalized—it will have to examine both. And if it is to develop new ways of seeing and doing things, it will have to take a serious look at societies organized along egalitarian, non-patriarchal lines in order to learn from them, and it will have to understand historically how it got that way.
Any takers for the heavy lifting? or just a bunch of handwringers?
(Disclaimer: I wrote about issues of hierarchy and patriarchy like one possessed. For a more in depth discussion read Apology to a Whale: Words to Mend a World published by Wings Press in 2016.)
Switching channels, the survival of life on the planet hangs in the fragile balance of a hold-out imperium which has officially lifted its leg on the Paris Accords on the one hand, and potential for some 400 nuclear reactors world wide, especially in the presence of rising seas, to cause more Chernobyls. And just this week the Washington Post reports that Keystone hemorrhaged 210,000 gallons of oil on the eve of a permitting decision.
Tune in next week.
Tune in next week.