The mainstream media is busy popularizing the myth that rape is a tool of domination and subjugation. Sexual crimes against women are blamed on everything from judicial failure to the innate depravity of the Indian male. But, what is missing in their “analysis” is a fact known to every self aware man: Rape has roots in male sexuality. In other words, Rape is primarily motivated by sexual desire. This is not just the evolutionary psychology explanation for rape. This is common sense. Only fanatics can deny such obvious truths.
But, there was not a single Indian journalist who was willing to state this with the authority of scholarship. This, of course, means that almost everything that is written on the issue is nonsense. But, how is this even possible in a country with a population of over 1200 million? Part of the explanation is that almost all of them are duds. But, it is also because they are not very curious about the truth. They are not even aware of the expert opinion in the issues they write about. They don’t read. This is the most underrated moral failure of our times.
Observe the results. The “Rape Is Not Sex” view is now considered the expert consensus by feminists, journalists, activists and other such weak-hearted people. But, this is just a popular delusion that gained currency only after the publication of Susan Brownmiller’s 1975 work, “Against Our Will: Men, Women and Rape”. Sensible thinkers never took much to it. Sensible men never found it convincing enough. There were many important works that rejected this view, like Donald Symons’ 1979 work “The Evolution of Human Sexuality” and Randy Thornhill and Craig T. Palmer’s work “A Natural History of Rape”.
But, it is almost impossible to find any of these books in Indian book stores—even in book stores in larger cities. I have seen Steven Pinker’s “The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial Of Human Nature” in some book stores. These books don’t even reach the Indian markets because virtually no one wants to read them. But, a hastily written book of a journalist on the rape problem might soon find a niche audience even if the prose is bland, the analysis dull and the the scholarship shoddy. How can this be explained away? How is this even possible?
The only explanation is that there isn’t a substantial segment of the population that is keen on reading great non-fiction.This is why I think that a lot of nonsense is being written about “reading” in the Indian media. There are “literary critics” who are convinced that book stores are places where we see a wide range of books and develop “taste” while the internet is a place where we tend to read our preferred genre. These “book lovers” do not know that access to the best works in social sciences opened up only after the internet started maturing. The difference between the internet and real world book stores is huge. It is incomparable. What happened on the internet in the last one decade was a revolution.
Much of what we call great literature is available on the web for free consumption. Yet, Indians do not want to consume great literature for free. In other words, the problem is not that Little Johnny does not have the opportunity to read. The problem is that Little Johnny does not want to read. The failure of the Indian media in explaining the rape problem is just a symptom of this anti-intellectual mentality.
To see the how such colossal ignorance and narrow prejudices influence the policy discourse, look at the debate on education. Almost everyone is convinced that the key to progress is in teaching Little Johnny to read. But, there is no one to say that it is worse than a waste of money to invest more in education. There is no one to defend the signaling model of education that argues that employers reward college graduates only because they tend to be smart, hard-working, and conformist. There is no one to say that much of what school and college teaches is worthless. This is not just the expert consensus, but common sense. But, books like Robert. E. Haskell’s “Transfer of Learning” and “What’s the good of education?” do not even reach the Indian markets. No one wants to hear enlightened opinion.
There is of course a more active debate on school vouchers—on transferring these children to private schools. This is again pointless because much of the differences between the children have roots in the differences in underlying ability. But, it is not easy to find books like Charles Murray’s The Bell Curve or Bryan Caplan’s Selfish Reasons To Have More Kids or Judith Harris’ The Nurture Assumption in the book stores here. Why? No one wants to admit that most children are pretty effing stupid.
There is of course, another grand scheme: To cure little Johnny of his illnesses. Informed writers on health policy now admit that government hospitals in India are more likely to hurt than to help the patients. But, there is a view that has been long a consensus among health policy experts, as Robin Hanson points out here: “In the aggregate, variations in medical spending usually show no statistically significant medical effect on health. It has long been nearly a consensus among those who have reviewed the relevant studies that differences in aggregate medical spending show little relation to differences in health, compared to other factors like exercise or diet.” But, I do not think any of these activists would want to read books like “Free for All?: Lessons from the Rand Health Insurance Experiment”.
Look at the nonsense that is being written on democracy. It is obvious to any sane man that the voters do not know what they are doing. In India, a large majority of them can barely read. Political scientists never really believed that people vote their pocketbooks. And now we have nearly five decades of research that proves that voters are totally clueless. But, our illiterate columnists tell their dull readers that democracy is freedom, and that people vote because they are too poor to not vote, and because they have better social conscience than their betters. Worthless tripe like “India Grows at Night” sell, but no one wants to read great works on democracy, like H. L. Mencken’s Notes on Democracy or Bryan Caplan’s The Myth of the Rational Voter.
Or, Consider the green menace. Very few environmental scientists subscribe to the pessimistic outlook that the media commentators have. But, the public that loves bad news is being continuously exposed to this pessimistic world view of media experts. They might even tell their readers that the masses love feel-good stories—And that they are doing a great service by selling bad news to a minority elite that cares. 🙂
Post Script: Manu Joseph seems to be aware of this, though he is not very learned: “The boys who could not attain the girls they wanted to touch, tried to grope them anyway. Men who are respectable today, when they were boys they pounced on girls during Holi, squeezed their breasts while smearing color and ran away laughing. There were gangs of college boys that boarded crowded buses every day and traveled from one place to another for no greater pursuit than to pull the elastic of panties and release them and rejoice when the girls leapt.”
Do read this passage in Steven Pinker’s “The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial Of Human Nature” : “I believe that the rape-is-not-about-sex doctrine will go down in history as an example of extraordinary popular delusions and the madness of crowds. It is preposterous on the face of it, does not deserve its sanctity, is contradicted by a mass of evidence, and is getting in the way of the only morally relevant goal surrounding rape, the effort to stamp it out.”