Thursday, March 05, 2015

Snowed in and all caught up on outrage

Thank you, p.c.-indifferent, telling-it-like-it-is menfolk of the Internet, for keeping me entertained. This is going to be the genre now, I guess - the flagrantly outrage-baiting personal essay by a man. Not that I was able to get through it in its entirety, but Knausgaard's "saga" - in which he white-male-privileged his way through Canada for the New York Times - might count. Sensitive, well-meaning essays get criticized for not being sensitive and well-meaning enough. Essays by people from marginalized groups conclude with the privileges the author does have being checked. The only way out of this cycle, it seems, is for men to write essays coming from places of unapologetic privilege.

-Exhibit A: Ryan Boudinot's rant about MFA programs, in which he takes a courageous pro-child-abuse stance:

Just because you were abused as a child does not make your inability to stick with the same verb tense for more than two sentences any more bearable. In fact, having to slog through 500 pages of your error-riddled student memoir makes me wish you had suffered more.
-Exhibit B: Brendan O'Neill's ode to having sex while trashed, in which he takes a courageous pro-rape stance:
We've gone from punishing those who rape to casting a vast blanket of suspicion over anyone who has sex. But the fact is—and please don't hate me—sex isn't always 100 percent consensual. Especially after booze. Sometimes it's instinctual, thoughtless, animalistic. Sometimes it just happens. It's sex without consent—that is, without explicit, clearly stated, sober consent—but it ain't rape. It's sex.
-Exhibit C: Jeff Wilser's self-pitying but brilliantly clickbait-ish humblebrag about being a late-30s straight man who's too lost to settle down, in which he confesses to an inability to take women's phone calls. No pull-quote - the more relevant fact here is that the piece rides the wave of the news that Tinder will be charging more for the over-28s. This news was generally received as upsetting by the wider over-28 community, even those in relationships or otherwise not using the hookup app. 30 isn't old! Except it kind of is - ask anyone in their early 20s, or perhaps the teenager at the supermarket who called you "ma'am."

Still in search of a name for this genre, though. Lumbersexual Lit? xoTarzan? The quest continues...


caryatis said...

I obviously agree with the first two articles. Re: O'Neill, it's unfair to describe him as pro-rape. But you may not be the intended audience. The author is writing about people who go out to get drunk or high and have sex with strangers. If you do that, you are almost never going to get thoughtful and sober consent. That's the nature of the game. But that's a wide gulf between not-ideal-consent and rape. Otherwise you get absurd results.

Phoebe Maltz Bovy said...

O'Neill is pro-rape in the sense that he's decided the current definition of rape - sex that isn't consensual - isn't to his liking. This makes him as pro-rape as someone who disputes that the definition of theft is taking something from a store without paying would be pro-shoplifting.

It's a cleverly-written article because he's not actually talking "about people who go out to get drunk or high and have sex with strangers" - not specifically. Sex where people aren't completely sober could be something as tame as an established couple trying a new act (or having sex when the might have otherwise just gone to sleep) after a couple beers, which is why it seems as if he's defending one of life's basic and near-universally-enjoyed pleasures. He makes it sound as if The Nanny State is coming for *that*, and not for cases where predators intentionally target incapacitated-level drunk women at frat parties.

caryatis said...

But the current definition of rape does not include every sex act where both parties are not sober. That would be absurd--but some people have argued for that definition, which is what O'Neill is arguing against.

He's saying we shouldn't "mash-up drunk sex and rape", not saying that rape-by-intoxication doesn't exist.