When it comes to most sex, apparently nothing.
Rape and other forms of abuse are crimes of hate and have nothing to do with consensual recreational sex, much less love.
Now that James Toback’s and Harvey Weinstein’s names have become nearly synonymous with physical and verbal sexual harassment, people are asking how this has happened.
There’s no need to ask. Most men were brought up to believe that the purpose of women is sex, free or for pay. I’ll stipulate that in many families–such as mine–young men were taught that sex is appropriate only when it’s a component of love and marriage: the times have changed about that as, to varying extents, both men and woman believe consensual sex is simply recreation–like, say, bowling or jogging or tennis.
As for men’s belief that the purpose of women is sex. that has not changed. I heard that on the playground and the middle school and high school locker rooms during P.E. class fifty years ago, and knew it was the basic attitude of varsity and junior varsity high school and college teams. Certainly, I heard this view in the military.
What I did not hear was talk of rape. Culturally, men were encouraged to develop excessive masculine traits, including being and acting as macho as possible, focus on rugged sports like wrestling/boxing and football rather than baseball and tennis, going hunting for sport rather than any need for food, to generally avoid courses/hobbies/activities relating to liberal arts, to approach everything in life with an over-the-top (and often mindless) pack mentality bravado, and to seek out “the kind of woman” who enjoyed consensual sex.
Now society is asking why any man would have an entitlement attitude about sex and women as sex objects. The answer isn’t new: Men are brought up to believe this. While women are not at fault for this–other than the pretense that it’s okay for their husbands to bring up their sons with this mindset–they have contributed to the women as sex objects mindset by wearing more and more provocative clothing. However, this clothing does not justify rape. It does cloud the issue.
Women have asked for the right to do what men have always done: wear what they want, walk alone where they want, and generally to feel safe and be safe wherever they are. While I was not brought up to see such rights as provocative behavior, men in general have been trained/brainwashed to believe that a woman alone was “an opportunity.”
So now, as I read in the news, many men in Hollywood don’t know what to say about Toback, Weinstein and others. If they admit they were aware of non-consensual sex, groping, and verbal abuse/innuendo, they are asked why they didn’t protest this behavior. If they claim they didn’t know it was happening, they’re assumed to be naive or to be lying.
I don’t feel their pain. I have no sympathy for them. Even though men have been (and are still being) brought up to see woman as sex objects, we were also brought up to see rape and other physical/verbal abuse as crimes. Yes, there have been numerous examples of groups of men becoming silent to shield a member who is accused of rape. Yet, rape is a crime and men know that it is. Hollywood has been complicit for years. In many ways, we all have been complicit because even the best of men know how men have been brought up and I have a strong feeling that very few of us stood up in a locker room and said “you guys are assholes” when teammates said “we’re gonna get drunk and find some free pussy tonight.”
According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, “one in five women and one in 71 men will be raped at some point in their lives. In eight out of ten cases of rape, the victim knew the victim knew the person who sexually assaulted them.” No wonder most women can say “Me, too” whether it’s rape, groping, or verbal abuse/harassment.
Who is doing this? The male animal we have all created and nurtured.
Two of Campbell’s novels, “Sarabande” and “Conjure Woman’s Cat” focus on rape, the first from the victim’s viewpoint and the second from a relative’s viewpoint.