A Symptom Not The Sickness

When outrage misses the point, the only possible response is The Facepalm

When outrage misses the point, the only possible response is The Facepalm

It’s a story that seems only possible in the Internet age.

Self-proclaimed ‘neo-masculinist’ Daryush “Roosh V” Valizadeh announced on Wednesday that he would cancel his “international tribal meet-up,” DNAinfo Chicago reported.

Valizadeh called off the events on his website, Return of Kings, stating that he “can no longer guarantee the safety or privacy of the men who want to attend.” However, he said, “I can’t stop men who want to continue meeting in private groups.”

The proposed gathering was hit with overwhelming criticism since Valizadeh first announced his plans to hold 165 events in 43 countries on Saturday, with many opponents citing a blog post last year calling for rape to be legalized on private property.

“By attempting to teach men not to rape, what we have actually done is teach women not to care about being raped, not to protect themselves from easily preventable acts, and not to take responsibility for their actions,” he wrote at the time.

I’d be shocked by such views if I haven’t been hearing them for years and years and years. It isn’t exactly news that a whole lot of people believe that some women, in some circumstances, bring sexual violence upon themselves. It’s how they dress; it’s because men are uncontrollable tools of their hormones at the sight of a woman’s bare flesh. This time, some guy thought it would be a good idea to get all sorts of other men together to talk about this. The Internet struck back, up to and including the hacker collective Anonymous, and suddenly it didn’t seem such a good idea; a group advocating violence against women was shocked – SHOCKED!they received violent pushback.

Author and “neo-masculinist” blogger Daryush “Roosh V” Valizadeh called police to his mother’s home in response to what he described as threats against his life stemming from his attempt to organize a “tribal meetup,” the Daily Mail reported.

Valizadeh, who drew massive criticism after trying to organize a Feb. 6 international event through his website, Return of Kings, reportedly lives at the Maryland residence, and showed officers emails and voice messages threatening him. One threat allegedly stated, “We will kill you if you come to our city.”

And there’s been no shortage of outrage on social media. One FB friend of mine wrote:

You know, without social media, this would never have been a story in the MSM, and I think one of the ethical challenges of all media right now is to decide not only when something should be ignored, but when it should be roundly denounced. To hell with these “pro-rape” assholes. No. Hell, no, I will not “fight for their right” to freedom of expression. That’s why they have the defense engendered in the First Amendment: Not only do I not personally have to come to their defense, but they have constitutional protection from me, because if I could, I would burn their evil asses down, rake up the trash, and pour salt on the ground so nothing like them would ever, ever grow back.

Strong sentiments, indeed. Yet, I wonder about such outrage. It isn’t like this is either new or even unique. For example, there’s this story from USAToday in 2005:

The 49-year-old woman was awakened around midnight by an assailant who choked her, dragged her by the hair and raped her so many times before the sun came up that she lost count, police say. When she asked if she would live, her attacker allegedly told her: “We’ll see.”

Usually, rapes like the one described by the woman in September would be punishable by up to 14 years in prison in Arizona. But the man accused in the attack was the woman’s husband, meaning the crime alleged is considered spousal rape.

The punishment: no more than 1 1/2 years behind bars, and perhaps no prison time at all.

Just so readers don’t get the impression Arizona is some kind of outlier:

About half of the states treat spousal rape differently from other types of rape, according to the American Prosecutors Research Institute, the research arm of the National District Attorneys Association.

Some states give women less time to come forward with a claim against a husband, or require proof that force was used. Most non-spousal rape laws require proof only that the assailant lacked consent

In the Arizona case in question, the defense attorney had a great strategy:

Steven Harvey, the defendant’s attorney, said he will seek to have the rape charge dismissed because the couple are married. “They can file any charge they want, but it’s a charge that has an absolute defense,” Harvey said.

Fast-forwarding to 2011, we should remember Reps. Todd Akin and now-House Speaker Paul Ryan trying to invent new definitions of rape.

Under H.R. 3, only victims of “forcible rape” would qualify for federally funded abortions. Victims of statutory rape—say, a 13-year-old girl impregnated by a 30-year-old man—would be on their own. So would victims of incest if they’re over 18. And while “forcible rape” isn’t defined in the criminal code, the addition of the adjective seems certain to exclude acts of rape that don’t involve overt violence—say, cases where a woman is drugged or has a limited mental capacity. “It’s basically putting more restrictions on what was defined historically as rape,” says Keenan.

Remember Todd Akin? He’s the guy who said “that “legitimate rape” does not often lead to pregnancy because “the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.””

And who can forget Sandra Fluke, advocating for women’s health care before Congress?

[Rush] Limbaugh dismissed Fluke’s assertion that women may be prescribed the pill for medical reasons and accused her of merely promoting promiscuity.

“What does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute,” he said. “She wants to be paid to have sex. She’s having so much sex she can’t afford the contraception.”

Limbaugh went on to insult Fluke’s family for raising a daughter with loose attitudes.

“Can you imagine if you’re her parents how proud of Sandra Fluke you would be?” he said. “Your daughter goes up to a congressional hearing conducted by the Botox-filled Nancy Pelosi and testifies she’s having so much sex she can’t afford her own birth control pills and she agrees that Obama should provide them, or the Pope.”

I bring all this up as a reminder that Daryush Valizadeh isn’t some lone dirtbag, a simple product of the Internet age. His views are neither surprising nor even out of the ordinary. Rather than get upset over some guy trying to organize a pro-rape gathering from the safety of his mother’s house (a detail I find hilarious), perhaps we should be outraged at a society that continues to argue over what does and does not constitute rape; perhaps we should be outraged that it is still perfectly acceptable to slut-shame women, whether they’re rape victims or advocates for women’s health; perhaps we should be outraged not at a nobody, but rather at our persistent rape culture that continues to treat women as less than human.

Valizadeh isn’t the problem. Our society is the problem. Our politicians, our laws, a popular and even legal culture that continues to treat women as less than fully adult, less than fully human is the problem. It’s easy to take potshots at some guy on the Internet. How about we all take account of how little outrage there is over the everyday humiliations and horrors women face? How about we remember that the Valizadehs of this world exist because we allow them to exist? Why isn’t there outrage over that?


One thought on “A Symptom Not The Sickness

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