Sunday, October 16, 2016

A toxic meme

There's always more and more badness to say about the corruption of good people by the Trump candidacy, and the most recent part of the campaign season has provided the most opportunities of all. Anybody who says, "Corruption? What corruption?" simply has his eyes closed.

I suggested the hashtags #gauntlet and #realmendontTrumptalk to protest and counteract the despicable downplaying of Trump's behavior. And that was before the most recent allegations that he has, in fact, acted as he bragged.

The meme I want to talk about in this post is particularly harmful because it represents the intrusion of vicious, misogynistic, manospherian attitudes into something more like mainstream culture. It's this one. The text goes, "If American women are so outraged at Trump's use of naughty words, who in the hell bought 80 million copies of 50 shades of grey?" I've seen it on my wall, sadly, either shared or "liked" by a friend or two. (But only a couple. I have more sensible FB friends than that, for the most part.) I've learned that it's based on a tweet by an ex-Congressman (and I gather current radio show host) whom I'd never heard of before named Joe Walsh who saw fit to add "Grow up" as a further charming injunction, presumably to all those outraged American women. I dunno, does he also think outraged American men should "grow up" and be un-bothered by Trump's despicable behavior, or just the women? I really don't want to think too much about what this tells us about what Joe Walsh thinks a grownup man is like.

There's so much to say about how bad this meme is that I don't think I can say it all. So here are just a few comments:

1) It starts off with more of that down-playing language: "Use of naughty words." Yeah, that's what it's about. Use of "naughty words." Couldn't possibly have anything to do with bragging about grabbing unwilling women by their private parts and getting away with it because one is a "star," could it? Nope. It's about "naughty words."

And by the way, if anybody you know has approvingly shared this meme, do not lie to yourself and to others by saying, "I haven't seen a single person excusing what Trump said." Yes, you have. Because this is. Downplaying the downplaying is itself a kind of downplaying. It's being the "hear no evil, see no evil, say no evil" monkeys while others sit around telling us this is no big deal and Trump isn't so bad and all men do it and blah, blah.

2) It tries to set women and men against each other, as if it's just or chiefly women who are disgusted. "If decent people are so outraged" wouldn't have started off nearly as well, would it? This furthers the idea that women just "don't understand" that "men are like this" (so it's really no big deal) and hence that women, but not men, are disgusted. Well, that's not true. A lot of men are disgusted, too. But it's standard manospherian tactics to try to pit men and women against one another.

This also indirectly furthers a despicable and destructive view of masculinity. See, it's the women who are outraged. We boys know better. David French skewers this well:

We’ve now reached the point where you must plainly lie about men and masculinity in order to justify your support for Trump. A generation of conservative efforts to persuade the culture that there’s nothing inherently “toxic” about masculinity is being undone in a matter of days because a fading reality-TV star must be carried into the White House. Now you’re only wearing your “big-boy pants” if you embrace the masculinity of campus-feminist fever dreams, where every guy is a frat boy and every fraternity runs a rape room.

3) It makes sweeping, negative, implicit generalizations about women. This, again, is standard manospheric practice. Women in general are sluts. Women in general are bad. Women in general are out to emasculate men. Just as man-hating feminists make despicable generalizations about men, manospherians (their mirror image) make despicable generalizations about women. This meme does the same. The implication is that all the women who are outraged about Trump's disgusting behavior are the same women who reveled in sado-masochistic literary p*rn. The scorn and distaste is quite evident: All you wwwwwiimmmin who are so outraged are the wwwwimmmin who were out there reading smut, right, right?

Well, no. There are plenty of women who don't read any smut and would never read that smut. And many of them are outraged about Trump's disgusting behavior.

4) It shows no concern for the actual well-being (including the spiritual well-being) as people of those women who did read that wicked piece of p*rn. Is it really better for people who read and view p*rn to come to approve of or shrug off, in real life, the practices they fantasize about? Is that what we want them to become? Is that what we demand of them? If someone (male or female) is so warped as to fantasize about degradation, should we tell him to "grow up" and accept actual degrading practices in the real world?

Would it not be better for such a person to be in a sense "inconsistent"? Certainly, it would be far, far better not to read p*rn, but the last thing we should be telling people is to harden their hearts and accept p*rn*graphic attitudes and behavior from our leaders. Maybe this event will even serve as a wakeup call. We can hope anyway.

But the desire to be snarky was just irresistible. The comment sounded clever, so Joe Walsh presumably never thought about the fact that he's more or less telling women that they should accept having the whole world turned into "50 Shades IRL" if they read the book.

This is an extremely dangerous and false notion of a fake virtue of consistency. We shouldn't actually want abortionists to be killing born babies as well. And we shouldn't actually want men and women together all to get down into the gutter and shrug their shoulders when a man runs for President who is such a slave to his own lusts that he boasts about using women he has just met as nothing other than objects for his own sexual gratification. When so-called "conservatives" are sharing a meme that calls for that kind of world, instead of opposing both p*rn and p*n*graphic culture in real life, we have a major problem.

5) The meme is sadistic. Let's open up our ears. This meme snarls at women that they deserve to be treated rough because women (generally) supposedly read and enjoyed an S & M p*rn novel. "This is what they want! So give it to 'em and see how they like it. Ha!" The snarl of combined contempt and glee is barely concealed. And if you were too deaf to hear it the first time, go back and think about it again.

And if that isn't toxic for our culture, I don't know what is.

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