(This post is only partly about reddit, but I couldn’t resist the title.)
A particularly facepalmogenic manifestation comes from everyone’s favourite “slashdot is getting trendy, where do we go now?” community, reddit. See, way back three weeks ago (which is years in internet time, a scale factor which makes reddit’s golden age of cultural relevance the better part of a millennium in the past), reddit hosted a “rapists explain themselves” thread. Everyone put on their Serious Hats and frowned concernedly and furrowed their brows, because while the content was disturbing it’s Important That We Understand This Phenomenon.
Then a remarkably slimy used car salesman started a similar confessional thread, and within a day someone had threatened to use the thread’s contents to get the fellow fired.
Compare and contrast.
While we’re on the subject of rape-related asshattery, I’d be negligent to ignore the latest frothings to erupt from evangelical conservative gasbag Todd Akin, who’s doing a bang-up job of coming across as exactly the sort of creepy fuck you’d expect to distinguish between “rape” and “forcible rape” (or, perhaps, “rape-rape“). It turns out that Akin, who’s doing a fucking fantastic job of smearing Romney and Ryan by ideological association, is more or less analogous to the sort of pompous high-school political evangelist who tries to channel Ayn Rand and ends up channeling Gordon Gekko. Andrew Sullivan points us to the bizarre pseudoscience of Jack Willke, apparently the leading purveyor of this sort of magical mystery biology:
To get and stay pregnant a woman’s body must produce a very sophisticated mix of hormones. Hormone production is controlled by a part of the brain that is easily influenced by emotions. There’s no greater emotional trauma that can be experienced by a woman than an assault rape. This can radically upset her possibility of ovulation, fertilization, implantation and even nurturing of a pregnancy.
Hormones, apparently, are fucking magic. This must be how The Secret works. (Note also the “assault rape” formulation, because apparently if it doesn’t involve back-alley violence the bitch must’ve wanted it.) That excerpt is so densely packed with handwaving just-so folk biochemistry I had to double check to make sure it wasn’t the USDA trying to peddle me some nutrition advice.
Now, in a political landscape where the right has claimed the dubious position of “To be sure, rape — or at least rape-rape — is a horrible thing, but—“, you’d expect the left to attack that glaring weakness with “There’s no but there, rape is always horrible”. And most of the time, you’d be right. The only problem is that the left has a depressing tendency to punctuate its message with “…and whatever our guy did isn’t rape (or at least rape-rape)”.
Defending Julian Assange, Gorgeous George claims:
It might be really bad manners not to have tapped her on the shoulder and said, ‘do you mind if I do it again?’ It might be…bad sexual etiquette, but whatever else it is, it is not rape or you bankrupt the term rape of all meaning.
Reason‘s Matthew Feeney elaborates:
The BBC reported on what British law would have to say in such a case:
… the law was clear that if the woman was asleep when a sexual encounter began, consent cannot “reasonably” have been given and having had sex before did not give a man the right to have sex again at any time and assume consent.
Quite where Galloway picked up that having sex with someone while they are asleep is not rape is anyone’s guess.
Galloway’s model of consent is more or less the same as my model of bus fare — I pay my relationship tokens, obtain a consent token, and may use that consent token to obtain personal gratification until it expires. That is creepy beyond belief. “Do you mind if I do it again?” Someone please tell me this is devastating British understatement, normally delivered with a sly wink that acknowledges the participation of the partner(s).
Update: Will Wilkinson introduces us to the stunningly vile notion, promulgated by a certain Peter Cornswalled, that (a) for a woman to become pregnant it is necessary for her to orgasm during intercourse, and further that (b) orgasm is retroactive consent. Just look at this shit:
Because pregnancy is not possible without both partners achieving a moment of issue, it is not possible for a woman who is actually raped to become pregnant. A woman who becomes pregnant must have had a moment of issue, meaning she enjoyed what happened. Regardless of how the encounter began, by achieving a moment of issue the woman has consented to all that went before. The act of becoming pregnant is, due to the biology with which God gifted us, proof that the woman was not raped.
The next time I have to explain to someone the apparent contradiction that one may have the right to do something but still be an asshole if one does it, I’ll use this amazing hate-dropping as an illustrative example.
All of this horseshit comes, incidentally, in service to the efforts of social conservatives to remove “what if she was raped?” from the list of objections to laws against abortion. Given the shuddering odiousness of these efforts to define away “rape-rape”, I have to wonder why they even bother to try. It’s rather like masking the smell of your rotting kitchen garbage by smearing dog shit on the cabinetry.