Saturday, 15 November 2014

Rape Culture Is A Demand-Side Issue

Every time I've convinced myself I've said all there is to say on this matter, something else crops up to remind me that a) there will always be idiots and b) authoritarianism ain't the answer. The arrival of this petition in my personal inbox is a case in point. Apparently, there's an epic loser who sells classes on picking up women with low self-esteem issues to gullible men. He advocates treating them roughly and jokes about rape. This, says petition writer Alex W., is an aspect of rape culture and should therefore be dragged behind the proverbial shed and shot. She's not going to like what I've got to say about this, and neither will you if you don't like straight talk or common sense.

Yeah... about that... I don't like anything that messes with the Twofold Principle, that is

The individual must be free to act and the will of the people must be respected.

This doesn't mean we pick and choose between individuals to decide who will be free to act or not, it's a balance that ensures that the implicit trade-off between personal freedom and social responsibility is kept in a balance that favours both equally. When social responsibility trumps personal freedom, you end up being pretty much bound and gagged, stumbling about on eggshells afraid of poking someone's thin skin. That's not a world I want to live in. Mind you, living in a world where individual freedom trumps all means that, in practice, the most aggressive and obnoxious person holds the floor and the rest of us are obliged to shout him down if we want to be heard above the din he makes. And God forbid that you complain. Oh, no, that's a major infringement of his rights. So, without a balance between the individual and society at large, we end up see-sawing from one oppressive situation to another. I'm having none of it, hence the Twofold Principle.

Pick-up artists: causes and the cure

Back to the loser. Apparently, his classes are sold out and he's been banned from several countries but he's actually just a sad snotnugget who wants to be Family Guy's Glenn Quagmire when he grows up. Apparently. Imagine Dapper Laughs (who has been moral panicked to death) teaching seminars, and you get the idea. Well it may be a toxic brand in some places, but the Forbidden Fruit law still applies. Those classes are sold out, remember. But why?

Why pick up artistry is popular

Socially awkward men aren't necessarily interested in a relationship. Unwilling to face the possibility of rejection, they turn instead to pick up artistry in the hope of winning a woman over for the night and dumping her quickly before she realises what she's ended up with.

Okay, that's the problem, deal with it. If they don't get "help" from that twerp they'll seek it elsewhere because they're caught up in the sexual imperative, the male version of the Madonna/Whore dichotomy. This is what happens when you swathe sexuality in shame; you're bad if you're doing it or bad if you don't. The implication is that there's a "bad" and a "worse," so you choose which one you feel less shameful about and go with that. Virgin-shaming, unrealistic portrayals of relationships in the media, poor role models, and social expectations have all conspired to convince a lot of men that they are a) entitled to sex and b) obliged to have sex in order to prove their manhood. If they can't fulfill the expectations thrust upon them what choice do they have but to go to a "dating guru?" That's why censoring Julien Blanc won't do a thing to reduce rape culture. He is but one of many people taking advantage of the sexual imperative to make money out of men's insecurities. He just happens to be famous for click-bait-y videos and being obnoxious.

What can we do?

Well moral panics won't do anything to solve the problem. Seriously, going nuts about obnoxious speech because we're afraid that people may be influenced by it is entirely the wrong approach and has a tendency to backfire. Besides, it shuts down debate. It'd be a lot more fun to let this twerp come into the country and run his classes, then sit back and laugh at the howls of outrage as the attendees discover that no, grabbing random women by the throat and shoving their heads down is not a sure-fire way to separate them from their undies, it's a ticket to the cop shop for assault.

We really should be a lot more concerned about censorship and the slippery slope than the ridiculous ravings of Whojammaflip. He who does the dodgy date doctor classes. Got himself banned from Australia. That bloke. Per the title, rape culture is a demand-side issue and we need to deal with the cause, not the symptoms. And the cause, as I've already pointed out, is our deeply ingrained patriarchal society's demands on men and women alike. Deal with that.

What I'm saying is, if we're worried that Thingummy's speech might be a negative influence on men, what are we doing to create a positive influence on men? Bear in mind that it's hypocritical in the extreme for a paper to carry pictures of Kim Kardashian's oiled rear end, then loudly complain about Whatshisface because he's a living, breathing version of Sid the Sexist. Honestly, it's like Viz but without the swearing — or the humour.

We need to decide for ourselves what constitutes a good role model, then promote him to the max to counter the negativity instead of creating a climate in which it's bad because I said so and no, we're not going to talk about it. We need to discuss pick-up artistry and its advocates instead of simply trying to ban it. Can we do it now, please?

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