Monday, May 26, 2014

on Elliot Rodger

If you don’t know who Elliot Rodger is, you can google him. But he’s the guy who this past weekend shot a bunch of people in Isla Vista because he felt alone and unloved and had never had sex, while lots of other “less deserving” people were having sex.

The following rant—like the one earlier today—comes mainly from my comments on a facebook post by a friend of mine, partly in response to other people’s comments.

To say this guy is a psychopath (or crazy, or whatever) absolves the rest of us of guilt, of responsibility. It makes it easy for us to go about our lives feeling okay about ourselves. Maybe he was a psychopath, but saying that like it's the answer to the question of "What the fuck happened here?" ignores the much greater danger. (And we are awesome about ignoring greater dangers.) This guy's ideas about women and sex and all that didn't just develop on their own inside his head. They came from a culture that taught him to expect certain things--women, sex, adoration. 
Sure, this guy seems to have had some serious brain issues. Reading a little of his plans and watching a little of his videos was very disturbing. It seemed oddly like he was almost playing the role of the villain in some drama/action/adventure thing. I couldn't read or watch all of it. It was too much. But what I saw there is that he hates himself and blames his pain on a lack of sex. Somewhere (or everywhere) he's picked up the idea that we all deserve to get sex "just because". And that somehow having sex would fix all his problems. That's nonsense. Nonsense that he learned from TV & movies. It’s a general sense that’s just “out there” in our culture. It's absolutely one of the stories we tell nowadays. 
Dismissing that because he's crazy or disturbed is much the same as what gun rights activists say: it's not that guns are dangerous; it's that these individuals who went on a killing spree are disturbed, or that those individuals whose kids accidentally shot someone weren't acting responsibly with the storage of their weapons. But it's both: guns ARE dangerous, AND these people are disturbed and those people were irresponsible. 
In this case, this guy was disturbed, AND there are serious dangerous problems with our attitudes about sex and gender...and violence. Yet we just ignore that later part. It's easier and more comfortable, and that way none of us are responsible.

I do not think with my penis.

A facebook friend of mine posted this link (or “liked” it or something) :

I made this really long rant/comment on it. But I decided that it was more of a blog rant than a comment on a facebook post. So I deleted it there and am posting it here instead. 

I started out liking this article (the first 2 "ways"), but then he lost me, and by the end he'd just made me angry. Sure, he's exaggerating for comic effect. But...NOT ALL MEN ARE WHAT HE IS DESCRIBING! I'm so tired of hearing about how men "think with their penis". I don't. Not all the time, like David Wong (the author of this article) is saying. 
Of course I sometimes have sexual thoughts, and occasionally they're strong enough that I even get a little distracted by them, but not all day every day. That is simply not true in my experience, and it never has been. Yes, I have a sex drive, but my brain is in charge. 
I've never understand the way a lot of men act when it comes to sex. Okay, maybe I'm just a freak. Maybe I'm a mutant. Maybe my brain was dosed with some rare radiation when I was a child. Maybe the reason I haven't had sex in so long is that my urge to stick my penis inside something is not uncontrollable. And it wasn't when I was 30 or 21 or 15 either. 
I don't get mad if a woman rejects me. Frankly, I'm used to it. I don't think women are conspiring with my penis to ruin me. That would be craziness; it's nonsense. And I don't care if a Supreme Court Justice is pretty or not, nor do I care how much weight Christina Aguilera gained or lost. 
Yes, I am a sad little man who sits at home alone in front of the computer most of the day, with little or no social interaction. And sure, I complain about it, but it never occurs to me to blame womankind for my issues. It never occurs to me to write hate speech about women on "Men's Rights" forums. And it certainly never occurs to me to act violently towards them because I'm unhappy. 
Okay, that last bit is definitely flavored by the recent stuff about that guy (Elliot Rodger) who shot some people at Isla Vista because he wasn't getting laid and women didn't seem to recognize how he deserved sex from them. 
Anyway...rant over...for now.

P.S. (See, that’s why I said “rant over…for now”)

I hadn’t really “weighed in: yet about the Elliot Rodger shooting/Men’s Rights reaction to feminism, etc. So I’ll just say this: 

This idea of the expectation of sex, the lack of appreciation for men, etc., is, to my mind, part of the larger issue of sex in our culture—the fact that we don’t deal with sex very well. We use sexual imagery all over the place, yet we don’t really want to talk about it. We want sex (a lot), yet we think it’s dirty and shameful and ought to be kept hidden (just like our bodies are shameful and ought to be hidden). 

This attitude is unhealthy and dangerous. We need to stop running away from sex. It is a part of us, part of being human. We desperately need to deal with it, talk about it, be open and honest with each other as individuals and as a society. 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

That's the wrong word.

Just a little while ago I was in my car and heard on the radio about this rich businessman, Tom Wolf, who just won the Democratic nomination for governor of Pennsylvania. The suggestion of the reporter (or commentator?) was that this primary win by a relative unknown was at least in part due to Wolf’s using his substantial personal wealth to flood the market with ads.

From the (very) little that I’ve read about him, he sounds like a decent fellow. Apparently four years ago he delayed his planned run for governor to instead re-purchase and bail out the business he used to own. However, the fact that he has $10 million of his own money to spend on a political campaign (so far) makes me rather suspicious. Yes, I’m prejudiced against wealth. I don’t know what the man’s net worth is, but it must be a lot that he can spend $10 million on a campaign. Then again, maybe that’s better than special interest groups funding him.

Anyway... That’s all set-up to what I really wanted to say:

The reporter mentioned that Wolf inherited the family business, and that he had a PhD from MIT. His very next sentence was “It’s an interesting combination of talents.”

Perhaps some people reading this will be aware of my position that words have meanings. Well, I think this is a misuse of that word, “talents”. Obviously it’s not the most egregious misuse of a word I’ve heard lately. (That would be something of a religious nature.) But it’s still the wrong word, unless you’re trying to make a point that seeming to be born with a musical or artistic or athletic ability or some other tendency is akin to being born rich and “inheriting” the family business.

Of course, he didn’t exactly inherit it the business. After college and two years in the Peace Corps, he came back home and worked as a fork lift operator for a few years, then bought the business along with a couple of his cousins.

So, I’ve written all this for two reasons. One, I have way too much free time. And two...
Stop using the wrong words, people! It’s annoying to smart people who know what words mean. Or at least to me.