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On the Conflation of Flirting with Sexual Harassment: Nov 16, 2017

November 16, 2017 9 comments

The last few weeks have seen a flurry of (mostly) women publicizing their past experiences of being sexual harassed and assaulted by powerful men from a wide cross-section of society. While the current spate of accusations started with revelations about Harvey Weinstein- men in sectors as diverse as entertainment, venture capital and politics have now been accused of being serial sexual predators.

To be clear, most notable accusations made to date are clearly undefendable. I mean.. jerking off in front of unwilling women trapped in rooms is pretty beyond normal flirting behavior. Forcing your erect penis into the mouth, or any other orifice, of an unwilling woman is also not defendable. There is of course the question of how many other woman went along with such behavior and saw it as the cost of career advancement.

But that is not what this post is about. Instead, we will talk about the odd response of both MSM and the internet to this turn of events. After a couple of days of the initial Weinstein allegations, the conversation shifted from how this was about an abuse of power to how almost men are sexual harassers and potential rapists. So what is behind this rather perplexing shift in focus? Why go after made-up problems than tackle real ones?

At the risk of sounding cynical (lol), it appears that “feminists” and their “male allies” are using these events to push their old agenda- namely, the criminalization of normal male sexuality. So how did I come to this pessimistic conclusion? For starters, I looked at a number of recent articles, posts and tweets about the causes of such behavior. The majority (over 80%) of them blamed all men for the abuses perpetrated by a rather small percentage.

A significant percentage of those articles also appeared to be rehashed versions of previous material by the same authors. In that respect it was very similar to how anti-gun media types keep on publishing the same old crap after every new mass shooting. In other words, the response of media types to such events is similar to how 9/11 was used to introduce security theater and legitimize mass surveillance in USA

So, what does any of this have to do with attempts at conflate sad attempts at flirting with sexual harassment or even assault? Are people stupid enough to believe that a drunken attempt to grope a woman’s tits or ass in a crowded bar is the same as making her suck your dick at gunpoint (real of financial)? Surely people are not stupid enough to equate a woman having regrets about having sex with some guy to him sodomizing her by force? Right??..

Except that they are and always have been that stupid. Between justifying mass murders because of their belief in an invisible sky friend or the defense of some equally ludicrous ideology, human beings (as a species) do not exhibit much rational behavior- even in 2017. A large percentage of people will go along with anything that seems popular regardless of its inherent stupidity or impracticality as long as it does not hurt them immediately.

Consider for example, how each new publicized incident of obvious sexual assault is used to push further for concepts like “affirmative consent”. Some of you might have seen many posters and signs on large university campuses about how consensual sex between two somewhat inebriated people is equivalent to violent rape. Other posters approved by university administrations suggest that male students could be prosecuted as rapists unless their female partner provides continuous “affirmative consent”.

What is a bit less obvious is that every publicized incident of overt and obvious sexual assault is used to push for more funding for such “programs” and regulations. It is basically the equivalent of using the publicity generated by bank robbers to pass laws for prosecuting panhandlers. However such ‘mission creep’ is to be expected when impersonal institutions of any type pretend to act in the “best interests” of the public. It is really about accumulating more power and jobs, rather than doing the right thing.

The careers of an increasing number of people under late capitalism depend on enforcing often totally arbitrary rules and regulations. They will continue doing so regardless of the consequences of their actions. Treating a drunk guy who feels up some woman as a sexual deviant rather than a sad human being should therefore be seen as an attempt to increase the power and job security of some people, rather than making society a “better and safer place” for women.

Curiously, all of these rules and regulations seem to be for ordinary men without much power or status. I should remind you that people like Weinstein, Spacey and a host of other powerful men got away with far worse behavior for decades in spite of older versions of those rules and laws because none of their victims were willing to follow-up on their accusations for reasons ranging from effect on career prospects to lack of money.

In that respect, the situation is a lot like how the police are willing to kill innocent black men holding cellphones while giving a pass to a bunch of racist white men walking around with AR-15s in some cities. Or how financial crimes worth billions of dollars are either never prosecuted or legalized in contrast to the system going after small time offenders over sums of money often less than a hundred dollars.

In a future post I will explore the likely consequences (intentional and unintentional) of ongoing attempts to conflate, what is at most, occasional unpleasant behavior with much more serious accusations such as sexual assault.

What do you think? Comments?