After the incident with the guy who was writing the self-help “dating” (read: rape) advice book that went viral yesterday, I couldn’t stop thinking about the way our culture (that is so obsessed with freedom, free will) excuses peoples’ sexual behavior with very bio-deterministic, and frankly fatalist, ideas. Ideas such as “boys will be boys” seem very innocuous at first, especially when you’re using them to describe babies who eat bugs, drink out of the dog’s bowl, whatever - but when it’s used to excuse awful, dehumanizing behavior, that’s when it becomes toxic.
The translation of “boys will be boys” into adulthood goes from describing simply uncouth behavior to justifying things we perceive as part of male functioning - for instance, domination and sex. While it’s true that a man can’t control his erections or can’t help when he’s turned on (the latter of which is something that women experience, too), he absolutely can help how he handles these urges. (And by “handles,” yes - I do mean that literally too.)
A few years ago almost to this day, my sister and I threw our birthday party at our apartment. Sometime after 1 or 2am when the party began thinning out, a group of four guys that were friends of friends showed up at our apartment. My sister and I didn’t know them at all. They had their own beer, knew some of the people there, so we didn’t complain. We had a huge chest of Everclear punch and everyone was having a good time.
At around 4am, the party started to wind down, and I asked the guys if they needed to sleep on our couch. I was a bit annoyed that they’d stayed so late, but I didn’t know where they lived & I’m vehemently opposed to drunk driving - I even keep spare sleeping bags and pillows in my closet for this reason. They guys refused, but they did ask if they could stay a while to sober up. I said yeah, but that I was going to bed. (My sister had already gone to sleep long before this.)
The next morning when I woke up, the guys had left, and they had also - I’m not kidding about this - cleaned my apartment. They had picked up all the empty beer and punch cups and trash and thrown them away. Four guys completely outnumbered two girls, and could have done anything and gotten away with it (we didn’t know their names, addresses, anything), and instead they chose to clean my apartment. That was more than my friends did!
Whenever people justify horrible behaviors such as rape and sexual assault by saying that men can’t help it, guys just want to get laid, they were taking advantage of an opportunity, (etc) I think back to my encounters with men that prove that guys can help it, that men are amazing people. Feminists are often charged with the accusation that they hate all men, that they see them as animals - and I think it’s just the opposite. If feminists thought men were animals, wouldn’t we believe that change was beyond them?
Instead, feminists know that men (and actually everyone - these problems are societal) are capable of more - are capable of good judgment, compassion, and self-control. We know this because we’ve seen it.
The book Above the Game was particularly upsetting because it subscribes to the idea that dating women is a formula (rather than an interaction between two human beings), and moreover, that men deserve this interaction and merely need to seize upon it. A man has needs (dating, sex) that MUST be satisfied. Attraction isn’t about figuring out what a woman wants or likes - it’s about making her “put her hand on your penis.” It’s truly nauseating.