Thursday, May 18, 2006

Welcome back, misogyny! Part I

Via Andrew Sullivan, I see that John Derbyshire is at it again:

Some of the most vituperative emails I have ever got came in after I made an offhand remark, in one of my monthly NRO diaries, to the effect that very few of us are physically appealing after our salad days, which in the case of women I pegged at ages 15-20. While the storm was raging, biologist Razib Khan over at Gene Expression (forget philosophers, theologians, and even novelists: the only people with interesting things to say about human nature nowadays are the scientists) decided to look up some actual numbers. Reasoning that a rapist is inspired to his passion mainly by the physical attractiveness of his victim, Razib went for rape statistics.

He found a 1992 report (Rape in America: A Report to the Nation) from the National Victim Center showing the age distribution of female rape victims. Sixty percent of the women who reported having been raped were aged 17 or less, divided about equally between women aged 11 to 17 (32 percent) and those under eleven (29 percent). Only six percent were older than 29. When a woman gets past her mid twenties, in fact, her probability of being raped drops off like a continental shelf. If you histogram the figures, you get a peak around ages 12-14… which is precisely the age Lolita was at the time of her affair with Humbert Humbert. As Razib noted, my own “15-20” estimate was slightly off. An upper limit of 24 would be more reasonable. The lower limit really doesn’t bear thinking about. (I have a 13-year-old daughter.)

Emphasis mine.

This "scientific proof" that young girls are more attractive than women is not only disturbing, but also illogical. A rapist's "passion" is only a small part of the equation--perceived weakness of the intended victim also plays a role. There's a reason parents worry about their 12-year-olds walking around alone and not their 30-year-olds doing so: as people get older, they get progressively more street-smart, and thus less likely to get into situations that could potentially lead to getting hurt physically. While there are savvy 12-year-olds and naive 30-year-olds, on average, it's got to be easier to lure a junior high school student than a PR exec. In other words, it's not that 12-14-year-olds look better naked (since when are rapists such discriminating aesthetes, put off by a little cellulite?) but that children are easier to convince, via non-violent means, to do idiotic things that, among adults, would amount to knowingly putting themselves into potentially dangerous situations.

Now, take a moment to be nauseated by the following: Derbyshire mentions, in one breath, his oneness with pedophile rapists and the fact that he himself is the father of a 13-year-old girl.

Done shuddering? Good. And, because this is National Review, Derbyshire is required to explain how whatever nonsense he's got on his mind, it all relates to the overarching, all-encompassing conservative fact that things used to be much better in the good old days, in this case, the days when girls' first experience with sanitary napkins coincided with their first donning of a wedding gown, a beautiful thing made obsolete by the evil forces of political correctness and liberalism:

It is all too much for our prim, sissified, feminized, swooning, emoting, mealy mouthed, litigation-whipped, “diversity”-terrorized, race-and-“gender”-panicked society. We shudder and turn away, or write an angry email. The America of 1958, with all its shortcomings, was saltier, wiser, closer to the flesh and the bone and the wet earth, less fearful of itself...

Here you see one of the paradoxes of our strange times. Our women dress like sluts; our kids are taught about buggery in elementary school; “wardrobe malfunctions” expose to prime-time TV viewers body parts customarily covered in public since “the lamented end of the Ancient World B.C.” (Humbert); our colleges have coed bathrooms; songs about pimps rise to the top of the pop music charts; yet so far as anything to do with the actual reality of actual human nature is concerned, we are as prim and shockable as a bunch of Quaker schoolmarms. After 40 years of lying to ourselves, we are now terrified of the truth.

Oh poor, poor Derbyshire. Forced to live in a world where women can wear whatever we feel like and yet not be forced to offer ourselves at our most innocent and nubile to middle-aged men waiting for us with engagement rings outside the local junior high school.


TangoMan said...

Just a correction. It wasn't Razib that wrote the post that Derb quoted, but me and this is the post.

I've gotten into a long discussion on this topic with the regulars over at The Happy Feminist where I expand on the points I raised in my original post.

This "scientific proof" that young girls are more attractive than women is not only disturbing, but also illogical.

There is some confusion between how you're using the term "attractive" and what I meant to convey in my post. I didn't use the word attractive but I could have to describe the attractiveness of the girls as targets for sexual crime. Their attractivenss would be comprised of naivte, gullibility, etc - not simply their physical appearance.

So, how far apart are we in this analysis?

Phoebe said...

That all makes sense, it's just not how Derbyshire interpreted it.