If Monica Bellucci spanks me, it’ll make my day. But if I spank Monica Bellucci, she’ll call the police. This seems banal, but this says a lot about law, liberty and human nature. Men and women feel differently. The law recognizes this. Throughout human history, sexual assault was defined as a crime directed at women.
But is this rooted in genuine respect for human heterogeneity? The law doesn’t always acknowledge men can be victims of rape. Consensual, unnatural sex is punished more often, more severely. The definition is being broadened, especially in western capitalistic democracies.
However, unusually large number of cases go unreported. People usually don’t believe male victims. Everywhere, the punishment is milder for sexual assault of men by women. This is, of course, not entirely unfair. Men are far more capable of physiological arousal without corresponding psychological arousal. Women are grossed out by the prospect of having sex with strangers. Women give birth to babies and nurture them, and they don’t want babies with strangers they aren’t attracted to. Men are eager to have sex with strangers, because they want to spread their genes widely, at a low cost to themselves.
Nevertheless, this is unfair to men. There is huge variance, but both men and women are capable of physiological arousal without corresponding psychological arousal. It’s not clear how often men are victims of sexual assault. Estimates range from about 2% of the cases to 60%. The truth probably is somewhere in between. But this doesn’t include kinds of assault. At work, gay men harass men more frequently than men harass women. In Australia, one-fifth of the perpetrators at work are women.
In India, you can’t be a rape victim unless you are a woman. Feminists vehemently oppose attempts to make the law gender neutral. This is not just about men. Till 2012, the Indian penal code didn’t have sufficient provisions to protect children from sexual abuse. Surprising, but true.
In American prisons, most cases in which wardens molest men involve female wardens molesting male inmates. Female prisoners are three times more likely to be sexually victimized by other female prisoners than by male staff. Many men are ejected from prison with sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Unlike male-on-female rape, in prisons, rape is often violent. HIV infections are more common. Contrary to popular belief, most rape victims aren’t women. Even if you leave out the men who exchange sex for protection, the number of male prisoners raped in American prisons is many times the number of women raped anywhere else in the country. Men are more likely to be perpetrators, but they are also more likely to be victims. But prison rape is the subject of many jokes that people are unusually tolerant of. Isn’t it plausible heterosexual men find male rape unbearably painful too? It doesn’t seem it’s cruelty that bothers us.
When a 23 year old woman was gang raped, tortured and murdered in Delhi, in 2012, this was known worldwide as the “Delhi gang rape case”. The emphasis was on “gang rape”, not on “murder”. This is typical. Why is rape seen a crime worse than torture or murder? A Thomson Reuters poll found Delhi to be the worst city for women when it came to sexual assault and rape. Crime is low in Delhi and other Indian cities, relative to the developed west. This is true of sexual crimes too. Rape, however, is protested more widely in India. Isn’t it possible that traditional societies value a woman’s honor more, just as radical feminists and left-liberals do, their pretensions to the contrary notwithstanding?
Why do criminals who severely mutilate their victims get away with it more easily than convicted rapists? Why are women largely let off the hook? Why is male rape taken so lightly? The answer is, of course, that the legal system cares about how we feel about sexual crimes against women. But this is not the same as caring about the suffering of victims of sexual assault.
81% of workplace sexual harassment cases in the United States are mere verbal harassment. A hostile workplace environment can have a paralyzing effect on its victims. But as many intelligent feminists have pointed out, let’s not forget there are differences between sexual assault, a hostile workplace environment, inappropriate behavior and honest miscommunication. Take the case of Anand Jon, the fashion designer who is serving a 59-year long sentence after he was falsely accused of rape and many minor sexual offenses by many women. There is much evidence that these allegations are false. But seven years were added to his prison sentence because of a failed bid to kiss a lady, and many more for inadvertently touching a model’s thigh while dressing her. This is insanity.
We severely punish sexually motivated crimes not because it is traumatic, violent or because it may lead to pregnancy and STDs. For some reason, we feel strongly about sexual crimes. This is especially true of workplace sexual harassment. Sexual assault, especially violent sexual assault is, of course, not trivial. A hostile workplace environment has a paralyzing effect on victims. But as many intelligent feminists have pointed out, let’s not forget there are differences between sexual assault, a hostile workplace environment, inappropriate behavior and honest miscommunication.
Is it fair to punish someone severely for flirting, honest miscommunication or inappropriate behavior? Is flirting as traumatic as feminists claim? For all we know, even rape trauma usually doesn’t last more than two to four months, even in particularly vulnerable women. Verbal harassment is, of course, less traumatic. Resilience is the norm. We underestimate human ability to overcome personal tragedies. The concept of trauma itself maybe fraudulent. 81% of workplace sexual harassment cases in the United States are mere verbal harassment. Most sexual assault on women isn’t likely to have long-term repercussions. Most rapists don’t use extreme violence, partly because they want the victim to survive and reproduce, and partly because they fear the repercussions. Hormonal contraceptives and morning after pills prevent unwanted pregnancy. Some studies suggest that men raped by women, on the other hand, often experience sexual dysfunction for two years, and face more adverse effects than female rape victims. The concept of trauma has been studied in some depth. In the long run, resilience is the norm, and women tend to be more resilient than men. It’s quite likely we underestimate human ability to overcome personal tragedies. To put it shortly, this is largely about how we feel. It’s largely in our minds.
We feel so strongly about sexual harassment because women aren’t reproductively superfluous. Men, especially low status men, were seen as disposable in the ancestral environment. The death of a man left other men free to impregnate the rest of the women. Most men died without leaving descendants. The death of a man didn’t limit the growth of the reproducing group, but the death of a woman did. Women were seen as very important. This is a prejudice which has roots in our evolutionary past. The movement of #MeToo is just another manifestation of this tendency. But morality is not about indulging our biases hedonistically. Morality is about overcoming our biases.
Many critics and older feminists think radical millennial feminists are fragile flowers unable to protect themselves or come to grips with the ambiguities of the mating game. I find this strange, and this is not just because this is wrong. Women unable to protect themselves deserve sympathy, not scorn. We take advantage of others, and avoid being taken advantage of using the same set of unconscious assumptions about human nature. It is impossible to change such assumptions by deliberate reasoning. It’s cruel to blame women truly unable to protect themselves.
Militant feminism is a relic of our evolutionary past, and has nothing to do with being fragile. It’s a political act to claim that you’re traumatized by flirting. This is predatory behavior. If radical millennial feminists truly value directness, they would have asked both men and women to be direct, instead of blaming men for seeing the world as it is. Trustworthiness is important for trust. Direct communication becomes the norm only when it is acceptable. Radical millennial feminists and their allies are not waging a battle against ambiguity. Their real motive is to punish men who are literal, and can’t use ambiguity to their advantage. It’s not surprising that sexual harassment training is about protecting employers and supervisor, and not about protecting the victims. This is about policing the male dominance hierarchy, which means, the policing of male access to sex. Human societies have always tried to make sure men who aren’t politically skilled have less access to sex.
There is a strong presumption in favor of believing women who makes rape accusations. But rape “victims” are incomparably more likely than victims of other crimes to make false accusations. In his extraordinarily honest book, “The Woman Racket”, Steve Moxon points out that, in anonymous interviews, police officers who handle rape cases admit that an overwhelming majority of the cases are false. In the UK, they admit false allegations maybe between 50% and 70%, in the US about 60%, in New Zealand this ranges from 60% to 80%, and in Eire, this is 90%. It’s unfair to dismiss this out of hand. If anything, there should be a strong presumption in favor of believing the accused.
What about women who sexually harass men? Men rarely accuse women of sexual harassment, but this is not the only reason why this isn’t debated enough. Men and women have different expectations from a relationship, and this is not understood well enough. Men are after sex, and women are after commitment. In my experience, women harassing men for commitment is quite rampant. Strangely, even when we damn female predators, we almost always mean women who pursue men for sex. A man who pursues women for sex is seen as a predator. A woman who harasses men for commitment gets sympathy.
We live in a world remarkably different from our ancestral environment. We’re expected to overcome our religious, ethnic and racial prejudices rooted in our evolutionary past. Is it unreasonable to expect a mature response toward sexual crimes? Is it unreasonable to argue in favor of proportionate punishment and a fair trial? Is it unreasonable to think that a man who desires sex is no more a predator than a woman who desires commitment?
It is fashionable to say that sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never break me. To be truly broadminded is to live up to this noble ideal. But feminists expect everybody to be proud of feeling traumatized by disagreement and verbal harassment. They’re eager to break bones for mere words. In the name of modernity, they behave like a village lynch mob, the way they have always wanted to be. On social media, they are free to be themselves.
Militant feminists defend a woman’s honor more eagerly than savages. They’ve forbidden words and thoughts. They gang up against transgressors. They’re easily offended. Scholarship is not their strong suit. They’ve all the makings of bone-in-the-nose primitives. But even critics think feminism is an offshoot of modernity. This is idiotic. These prejudices have always been with us. It’s human nature to be biased in favor of women. This is something Alice Eagly and her colleagues called “the WAW effect”—Women Are Wonderful. Feminism is the Marxism of our times.
It is blind hatred that makes heterosexual women to take to social media and announce they would be glad if men don’t flirt with them at work. But it’s not enough to oppose feminists. We should ask important questions. We look at the concept of “safe spaces” largely through the prism of feminism and left-liberalism. It’s a lot more important and interesting than that.
An unsafe environment hampers productivity, just as government policies do. Strangely, libertarians haven’t thought very deeply about workplace politics. Does it make sense to restrict our analysis to how government policies interfere with production, distribution and consumption of goods and services? Libertarians tend to think an employer is within his rights to fire or harass an employee for entirely political reasons. But how is this any different when the harassment is motivated by sexual desire?
Sexual harassment is no worse than other forms of harassment. Most women would rather work for a harmless flirt than with a bully who piles work on them, marginalizes them in every possible way, and finds fault with everything they do. Workplace mobbing is a reality, and one of the most challenging moral problems of our times. But, there are no hashtag campaigns against workplace mobbing. There is something terribly wrong with our moral sensibilities.
The law already punishes workplace politics, but only when gender and race comes into play. Sexual harassment at work is a crime, even if the victim is not physically violated. Libertarians do not usually question the legitimacy of such laws, though they find the ambiguity and the possibility of false allegations troubling. It is possible to argue that workplace politics is part of a package deal that employees consent to. But then the same can be said about sexual harassment too. I doubt whether any employer would admit that these are part of the package deal. So, why don’t we punish workplace politics, just as we punish sexual harassment?
Why don’t we build safe spaces for victims of workplace politics too? Workplace politics is a violation of liberty too. If fraud is a derivative of force, it stands to reason that workplace politics is a derivative of force. Why is fraud acceptable so long as the association is voluntary? Why is deception acceptable so long as no formal contract is violated? If deception is a feature of all human groups, it’s not possible for an employee of personal integrity to move from one group to another and free himself from deception. This doesn’t mean deception is acceptable. We’d all be better off in a world without deception, but there is near-complete agreement that it is impossible to outlaw deception. This doesn’t stop us from outlawing sexual harassment, though this is no less ambiguous, no less prone to misuse.