Good heavens, what a ride we’re on now with everyone piling aboard the #MeToo train, bringing sexual misconduct allegations in every sphere of public life. So, how do we make sense of this problem in a way that is smart and productive?
First of all, this is a wake-up call. The smartest thing to do is to recognize it as such, the productive thing to do is to use it as such. So let’s get on it.
To understand it, we must look at its fundamental basis, which has three parts. The first part is that people are always seeking outlets for sexual expression. Part two is that a repressed atmosphere results in distorted means of expression. Part three is the ingredient of power play, which adds to the distortion.
Part I: People are always seeking outlets for sexual expression.
Well, this is pretty self-explanatory upon the basis that we are highly sexed creatures, on the whole. But we really lose touch with that because of the way we’ve been conditioned– to continually push it back into the dark corners of the room– by a sexually repressed culture. Which brings us to Part II.
Part II: Repression Distorts Expression.
When an irrepressible force like sex is repressed, by definition, it finds other outlets– by force. Loss of touch with a healthy, intact sexuality causes behavior that is unintelligent at best, harmful to self and others at worst.
Not one of us is unscathed. There are a huge number of ways that our sexual well-being is damaged by the sex-negativity throughout our culture, ranging from the gross to the nearly invisible. It begins with nonverbal impressions absorbed by infants (perhaps an agitated parent pushing an infant’s hand away from its genitals, or the like). Then come the verbal innuendos, off-handed remarks, direct reprimands… Then there’s the secrecy, scorn, ridicule, shame, guilt, and so on… at home, at school, at church and out in the world at large. You get the picture.
The shame of sex demands a covert form of behavior around sex in the most personal realms of our lives. Anything but honest and straightforward, because we’ve always got to watch our backs for the punishment that is due, because sex is bad, and asking for it straight out is unthinkable. We must play our cards very strategically, subtly manipulating things to our favor, in keeping with the conventional boundaries around courtship and seduction, in order to disguise and cloak the “crude” sexual motivation to an acceptable degree. When, deep inside, we are already convinced that almost all sexual expression is inappropriate, or a form of “misconduct”, the lines become almost impossibly blurry.
When everything sexual must be done in secrecy, covert ops are the norm. Our basic skills have developed in answer to the mandate for concealment. So of course, there we go, slip-sliding away down that slope, until someone suddenly stands up and recognizes that things have slipped from the “normal” realm of secrecy and deception (!) and into the realms of unacceptable, abominable and illegal. This is how human beings tend to function, as shown in various psychological experiments (such as the Stanford Prison Experiment). It’s like Richard Dawkins’ argument that the religious criterion of faith itself (accepting dogma without question) paves the way to violent extremism, and is therefore not so wise or benign. It makes sense.
Similarly, the “normal” sexual environment we are living in is not so wise or benign. Repression causes grievous distortion to our most basic means of sexual expression. So we should not be surprised to see this, in any given situation, blooming into more significant grievous abominations. We started the whole concoction using a recipe for disaster, so disaster is what we got.
Part III: Power Play Enhances Distortion.
Sex and power are bedfellows. In terms of physics, sex is energy and energy is power. In terms of biology, as the core feature driving our existence, sex forms the taproot of desire. Desire cries for fulfillment, and the capacity to manifest that fulfillment represents power. All well and good.
But in the game of power struggle and power play, sex gets tossed around like a rag doll. A powerful individual commands what they want, who they want, and how and when they want it. Anyone unfortunate enough to inhabit the less powerful realms (women, rookies, youngsters, children…) is an easy target. In the game of power, might makes right, and when the “right” is so “wrong” (deceptive, manipulative and under-handed) to begin with, it’s not such a stretch to exercise dominance and coercion.
So let’s turn this wake-up call into a call to action. That means extending the arm of the law to bring justice to those harmed. That means extending a longer arm of understanding toward those caught with their pants down, doing the harm. And, most importantly, that means pointing the fingers on that arm back upon ourselves to take responsibility for reorienting this ship. No one on board is innocent. How honest are you with those you wish to “have” and to “hold”? How much of a player are you in keeping with the boundaries of a maligned convention?
Really. Wake up!