Moderate air today. Yesterday, the air was fresh here at home, but at the nearby Costco it was hazy and stinky. But both places were served by the same weather station, reporting clean air. I pined for the moment of San Francisco, where whether stations are placed in high density (On the other hand, San Francisco alternates between sea air, harbor air and smog).
I wrote a piece yesterday that I’m not ready to publish. My intent was to add to the dialogue regarding the recent explosion of outrage regarding the Harvey Weinstein affair. Between Weinstein and Trump and Cosby (and O’Reilly and Bolling and…) we’ve had a lot of powerful famous men get outed in succession for sexual coercion and assault. It’s a trend that I hope evolves into a permanent culture change towards a more egalitarian, power-balanced future.
But I have cause to be pessimistic.
The piece, as I wrote it left me raw. Outraged. Venomous. Bitter. This summary of it leaves out both specifics and asperity, but some of it’s still in there. Read at your own risk.
Part of the problem, I’ve observed, comes when teenagers — teenage boys at least — become sex maniacs shortly after puberty. This is to say, they transition from being entirely uninterested in sexual matters (except maybe as a point of curiosity and novelty) to being entirely uninterested in anything else. It’s a wonder we bother trying to teach them academics at that point.
The thing is, the rest of the society fails to address this at all. Rather our schools, teachers, parents and ministers strongly imply they should keep it in their pants and not talk about it to anyone. (…and straighten up and fly right, and get a haircut!)
This is American culture all across the United States. It’s how we treat our kids.
Adolescents are stuck figuring out on their own how to survive under these circumstances. Those who have power (in some cases physical or social power) learn quickly to utilize that power in order to attain sexual gratification. That thing where the boy drives the girl out to make-out point, and she realizes that she’s going to have a hard time getting home without his cooperation, so she better play ball? Yeah, that’s been a thing since we invented cars. And serves to exemplify how teenage boys get laid in 20th century United States. Only in the 21st century (if even now!) is this kind of manipulation acknowledged, though it’s still commonly done.
I think when it comes to the Weinsteins and Trumps and O’Reillys of this world, our society does its part to construct them that way. We tell them to conceal and ignore their sexuality, Meanwhile they’re concupiscent enough to fuck a confection. We force them to figure it out for themselves.
And they do.
Sexual harassment and assault run rampant throughout our high schools and societies. For those not fabulously rich, small amounts of power can serve to coerce or assault as well, so long as it is sufficient to overcome the victim. The same way that bullies are pervasive throughout the States, so are sexual bullies.
We’ve ignored the problem entirely throughout the twentieth century, and seduction culture, hypermasculinity, the androsphere and the alt-right have shown us the end result. And we may be disgusted at this, but we may not be willing to do what is necessary to actually create change.
We may not be able to fix this any more than we can fix racism. It may just be too instinctive for us to resent our kids once they become sexually inclined.
This is where I keep stopping (and may stop again before I publish this): I was one of the other teenage boys, the ones stay miserable in silence, the ones who don’t coerce, either because they are bad at it or because they can’t stomach it. (For me it was a bit of both.) The ones we, society, parents, teachers, ministers have never been bothered to care about. We accept our boys so long as they pretend they’re not sexual, but once they express even a bit of rand, the wimpier ones are even more disgusting than their gropier, more predatory peers.
That is to say we Americans, possibly we humans may find Trumpy, Weinsteiny teens appalling to our sensibilities, but we find meek, milquetoast yet sexually-frustrated teens, as I was, even less tolerable. And occasional peers and adults alike will occasionally single one out and mob him like crows pecking apart one of their own flock.
Our society, which is to say our policies, our accepted ethics within communities and the opinions of individuals as expressed by their behaviors give zero fucks about these poor sods who are left to suffer in their misery. And by admitting I was one, I feel like I’m risking incurring that degree of apathy and resentment again from community and country.
I struggled with major depression even in my teenage years. Thus I was not just a wimp but a suicidal wimp. Kids like me these days are commonly barraged with pressure from social media to #KYS. It’s now common parlance.
We seem naturally inclined to cull the meek, leaving the aggressive teens to survive. We care about suicides about as far as we don’t like the messes they leave. Otherwise, we accept that they were delicate snowflakes to the last, and are glad for the elbow room.
I’d hoped that by the 2010s we’d have made progress in how we raise our kids. Frustratingly, no. We still regard our sexually overwhelmed adolescents as pariahs, and they quickly learn to stuff or hide their libidinous interests in order to stay accepted. (The primary message of the US-endorsed Abstinence-only programs is no-one must ever know you are a pervert.)
I’m outraged and frustrated and cynical, and expect our easiest, best solution in the United States is simply to castrate our boys as children.
The alternative would be to acknowledge and regard the sexualities of our adolescents. That is, to say more than it sucks to be you. I doubt we’ll do even that. I’ve been pondering this problem for years, from digital-assistent like AI trainer-girlfriends to teach them to relate to adding courses in mindfulness and self-awareness to our public school curricula.
But considering how well we defy our propensities towards racist or religious bigotry, frankly, I think we have a higher chance of implementing mass castration policy.
What you can do is look at your boy while he’s still five and think about how he’s going to survive turning fifteen without turning into someone that doesn’t routinely coerce sex from women when he’s twenty-five.
Yes, I’m bitter about it.
Yes, I think things aren’t going to change much.
Feel free to argue otherwise.