Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Age of Sex Crime

In this 1987 book, author Jane Caputi blames men for everything bad.

Not only is this her philosophy in a nutshell, it is a summation with which she would probably agree.

The book caught my eye in a used bookstore because of my “whodunit” interest in Jack the Ripper’s crimes, and indeed Caputi takes Saucy Jack as a template for “the Patriarchy” – i.e. the world today, “The Age of Sex Crime,” which self-evidently victimizes all women and intentionally denigrates, murders, rapes, and objectifies women, who are thereby exonerated from any and all sin or guilt for any evil, ever.

That’s Caputi’s viewpoint.
When talking about black people, the author always (except in a quotation) capitalizes the “B.” She does NOT capitalize the word “white” when it is used as a race-descriptive word. I assume this is done to somehow retroactively bestow power or honor to the millions of black people who, in the past, have been put-upon and victimized partly or totally because of their race. In my opinion, this selective “naming” doesn’t honor – it simply trivializes the troubles of black people by implying that merely the capitalization of the letter “B” makes up for everything black people have suffered.

Caputi makes a capital error (pun INTENDED) by stating several times that “There are no known serial killers that are female” (p 203). Not only is this a specious argument (arguing a positive point from a lack of evidence), it is downright wrong. Simply Google “female serial killer” and you will find articles, and books, on the subject. Serial murder as a classification of human beings, knows no gender on either end of the killing.

However, her INCORRECT identification (serial sex murderer = MALE) is important to Caputi’s central thesis (that men are by definition evil). For that matter, it is implied throughout the book that sex = crime. In other words, there can be no heterosexual intercourse devoid of intended violence.

While this book is a valuable catalog of the popularity of male violence towards women and its lamentable place as a centerpiece of popular culture and media marketability, it fails because of its basic worldview: that ALL women are voiceless victims, and that ALL men are, because of their maleness, oppressors and would-be violators.

If all women are victims, who did the Patriarchy happen to give this book the chance to be published? If men are by definition potential serial murderers and racists and rapists, how does Caputi justify using the words and research of such MEN in her book alongside the it-goes-without-saying righteousness of female researchers and writers?

My response to such a characterization is similar to my reaction to being accused of being a racist, simply because I am white (note the lack of a capital “W”): If this is true – if all men are part of an oppressive Patriarchy which intentionally oppresses women – then why do most men (me included) fail to show the benefits of such a supposed oppressive regime? I mean, if “white men” are running everything to their benefit, where’s my harem? Why am I still looking for a job?

It is a sad truth that judging people by their skin color or sex or what-have-you IS NOT a terrible attribute of ONLY white males. Now, my observation of this sad truth (which should be common sense!) NEVER excuses such behavior. MOST of the myriads of examples of male oppression and violence against women are, as Caputi says, a sad reflection on a society which spends money on them and makes these products popular enough to be emulated by valueless people eager to make a buck.

BUT, every man who has sex with his wife IS NOT harboring a secret desire to gut her like Jack the Ripper did to “Long Liz” Stride in 1888. Every teenage boy who feels frustration after a petting session with his date IS NOT in imminent danger of becoming a sexual murderer.

Similarly, capitalizing the letter “B” when talking about a black person is no more helpful to actual victims of racial prejudice than buying a pink jacket for your daughter is a meaningful statement of your support for women’s rights.

Please understand that I am not in any way trivializing actual injustices. I don’t sympathize with the creeps who enjoy “snuff films” or other nasty things. But I believe that labeling anybody as “bad” or as a victim (either way) by something as simple and basic – and potentially divisive – as gender or race or ANYTHING BUT BEHAVIOR – is really not helpful.

I accept it as a truism when the Bible states that every individual is a sinner who needs an individual encounter with the person God provided to pay for that sin – Jesus Christ.

The problem of human sin is not something that can be believably blamed on gender, or race, or society, or any of the other convenient whipping-boys of the world. This book makes a basic error in its denigrating of all women as victims. It justifies this error by its balancing-act of “naming” all men as would-be rapists and sex-murderers.

Such finger-pointing, especially about such a serious issue as showing the depressing salability of violence against women in modern society, only lessens the validity of this main point. The problem isn’t MEN, it’s MAN.

And I mean that in an entirely gender-neutral way. Evil and wrongdoing and sin know no gender boundaries. Or any other boundaries.

This is an interesting book, containing an extensive listing of many ways that “sex sells” and “violent sex sells more.” But the problem isn’t in the crotch. The problem is in the heart – male and female.
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© by Mark Alfred