“Fools think that this is just nonsense. Something left over, old-fashioned. But there’s always a purpose in nonsense.”- Ayn Rand
One of the most fascinating aspects of Schools, which attracts its fair share of media attention presently, is sexual harassment. What? Is that what we send our children to school for? Is that what you are tempted to ask? Surely, you must realize I am not talking of teachers running after kids, tying them to a bed and raping them. Oh, not in that very primitive sort of way, but, on a deeper, and therefore, much more important level.
We have some really interesting notions of child abuse and sexual harassment. The very image the word child abuse conjures up in our minds is that of a brute trampling on children. Reality, however, is much more complicated than that. The abuser, needless to mention, is not altogether a brute. He could be a relative, teacher, or even, as in most cases, a parent. It is not even necessary that the abuser is a man. Women, usually get away with what would have cost a man a lot. In most cases, the child may not know that he is being abused. He usually gives the ‘otherwise so nice’ woman who cuddles him the benefit of doubt and keeps his mouth shut.Children in some cases like such treatment and that too may prevent them from opening up. In an overwhelming majority of the cases, children, simply are not comfortable discussing such issues.
What has physical punishment to do with sexual harassment? Physical punishment certainly has it’s origins in the Solomon’s dictum in Bible,’ Spare the rod and spoil the child’. It is no coincidence that Solomon kept many mistresses and was a child molester himself. How does it differ from rape? Physical punishment is no different from sexual harassment, other than it is done in so covert a manner. A rapist doesn’t make professions of goodwill. He makes no claims of benevolence. He is too innocent a man to make such professions. He simply tears off your clothes and starts raping you! Corporal punishment, as it is in the case of all other tyrannies perpetrated on mankind, is done in the guise of a favor done for the child’s own benefit. Is it less harmful as it is capped and sugarcoated as that? No, it is even more so, and more shameful and offensive at that. There are even instances of children beaten to death or given electric shock. How could someone argue it all is done by some high, benevolent motive? You must be coming from a long line of dinosaurs to give it any other interpretation!
Most parents and teachers have problems admitting that their behavior is sexually abusive, that, it is their real intention. One is tempted to quote Ayn Rand- “God, how you make me sick, all you hypocritical sentimentalists! You go along with me, you spout what I teach you, you profit by it–but you haven’t the grace to admit to yourself what you’re doing. You turn green when you see the truth.” You can of course, hide your real intentions from others, and even from yourself. It changes neither the nature of your intentions, nor its consequences. Speak up for yourself! If you are a pedophile and enjoy abusing your child, you should have the grace to call it by that name!
How is someone supposed to change anyone by means of force? Could all these men and women be so dull that they are incapable of giving it a moments thought? Couldn’t it be that they evade it as they can’t bear the thought of confronting the nature of their real emotions? The answer is obvious! The usual argument against corporal punishment is that it doesn’t work. ‘It serves no purpose!’ Oh, those fog-bound semi-somnambulist wretches! They think it is intended to work! It just obviates that these knuckleheads have no idea of what they are talking about. The basic issue is not whether it works or not, but the right of an individual to his own property, which, in this case is his own body. One has every right to regulate, persuade, bribe or preach. No one has the right to physically aggress against anyone. Why is it that a child doesn’t have the right which people take for granted in the case of adults? Is it that one can run roughshod over individuals incapable of retaliating? Is that only fear which keeps these molesters ‘moral’ in relationships with adults?
If you say one has the right to aggress against someone else, it is to deny the right of that person to his own property. If it is so, and if there is anything such as a universally valid logic, you too shouldn’t have the right you deny to your fellow beings. When you say so, you are using your senses and body parts, which obviously, is your own property. When you manipulate words with your property, you yourself are claiming that right, contradicting your own statement. If you are now to say that you aren’t concerned with principles, you are making an exception for it in your own statement. You are now about to scream that a contradiction doesn’t prove its fallibility, which is to contradict yourself again and end up in a paradox which you can never get out on your own!
Let us now move on to the ‘purpose it serves’. When a child is physically aggressed against by a person he values, he comes in conflict with an emotion which he can neither define nor cure. One can have control in the way one reacts to his emotions. One can’t, but, have any control over his emotions at a particular moment. He starts eroticizing it. The child and the molester may prevent the real issue from entering their mind. It doesn’t change the nature of that issue. It doesn’t change the nature of their emotions. The same attitude is seen in other cases in which individuals deal with traumatic experiences-broken love affairs, painful childhood and many similar experiences. It could lead to various psychological disorders, including chronic alienation & hostility.
Man is too complex an organism, and individuals respond to the very same treatment through different means. In some cases, the victim feels alienated from his own body and normal sex becomes impossible. Compliant children, who are usually said to have turned out good, are the ones who suffer from such disorders the most, as they find no other means to relieve their emotional overload. No one speaks of these issues, which every one knows. Intellectual dishonesty in repressed psychological issues is similar to that of the way intellectuals react to other innovative concepts in social sciences. Even when media digs up such issues, no one dares to call it by its name. A Google search is all it takes-What do you see? Hundreds! Thousands! Hundreds of Millions! Good God, those are pornographic sites! Is there anything more to be said?
Often these issues are met by deliberate evasion, silence & ridicule. Alice Miller writes in ‘Breaking the Wall of Silence’, that most psychology students interested in dealing with this issue in their final papers are discouraged by their professors. In the whole world, there is not one single faculty in which a degree is offered in the study of psychological injuries in childhood. Lloyd de Mause writes in one of his works of a brilliant Scientist whose path breaking work in childhood in America was met with scorn and ridicule by the media and academia that it finally drove him to suicide. Surely, a conspiracy of silence! Instances could be quoted of similar treatment meted out to the innovators in other branches of humanities too. It’s inconceivable that it all is done without any purpose.
I know, most readers of these blog wouldn’t admit that they were abused, or are being abusive. It is for the same reason the issue is treated by the media and academia with scorn. They have, deep inside, an inarticulate sense of fear, pain and anger when confronted with such issues. ‘Isn’t it more of an exception, than a generality?’ they ask. It is of course, understandable that they don’t want themselves and their parental figures in question. Most of them would even deny that they have any idea of what I am talking about .Let us, for the time being, admit that it is so. If so, why this ominous silence? Why this evasion? What do they fear this much? Why they blush and cringe? Are they all so incompetent, unintelligent and dishonest that they have to struggle this hard to hide their humiliation and yet hold on to their professed convictions? I can say with utmost certainty, from my readings and life, that such evaders are not an exception, but constitute almost all men and women on earth. In case you have problems taking it from me, go through all the novels in your local library and find out for yourself, with what precision and detail are instances of corporal punishment dealt with in novels. Rousseau’s ‘Confessions’ are still read, mostly for his fantasies. Some translators smuggle in some spanking scenes into their own translated version. Are such authors’ exceptions? Are you capable of pointing out sadistic interpretations?
Quoting Ayn Rand: “Nobody said that. Nobody would talk about it at all. All I know is that I—and that’s what I can’t forget! At first, I kept wondering how it could be possible that the educated, the cultured, the famous men of the world could make a mistake of this size and preach, as righteousness, this sort of abomination—when five minutes of thought should have told them what would happen if somebody tried to practice what they preached. Now I know that they didn’t do it by any kind of mistake. Mistakes of this size are never made innocently.”