The Slut Formula!

8 07 2013

Apparently there is a new formula for calculating the promiscuity of women. It is called the Slut Formula, and it adheres to the most stringent standards of statistical analysis. Who cares about lesbians, gay men, or even the perspectives of straight women? It is all about the heterosexual male perspective. Just observe:

Slut Formula

I am not going to debate whether or not the author of this work is reliable–obviously it is a puerile teenage male, or else might as well be–nor am I going to debate his purported attempt at satire–it is irrelevant. Rather, I am going to address the premise upon which his formula is based: that women are slutty because they have a lot of sex. This is important whether or not the formula is satirical, because a lot of people actually believe it.

Even if the author is being satirical, many people do still think that women are slutty for having a lot of sex. This has always confused me. Many men feel as though it is their prerogative to have as much sex with as many women as possible, and that it is the woman’s role to “lie back and think of England”. But for every man who has sex with a woman, there has to be a woman who has sex with a man. (Most men appear to be attracted to women.) They want their sex from women, and then they cry, “Slut!” when Polyandry Nepalwomen provide them with their sex. Well, what on earth do they expect from women??

It sounds like a classic case of cognitive dissonance to me.

There are a lot of ideas about why men are more promiscuous than women, or whether they are, or whether they should be. Personally, I don’t understand why there should be a difference between men who have as much sex with as many different women as possible, and women who have sex with as many different men as possible. Even if there is a biological explanation, it is beside the point, because the fact that something exists, or that something is “natural”, does not mean it is right. I could just as easily say men have a greater compulsion toward rape. Finding a biological explanation for something doesn’t make it right.

Hindu Guru Blames Delhi Gang-Rape Victim for Her Attack

12 01 2013

Asaram Bapu Delhi Rape VictimCan anybody be full of more shit than Asaram Bapu?

The Hindu guru recently gave a speech at a ‘Satsang’, a type of gathering with his devotees, in which he remarked that the medical student who was gang-raped on a Delhi bus on 26 December, and who died of her injuries in hospital a few days later, was just as responsible for her attack as were her attackers. I kid you not. The fucker really said this. Or, depending on how strongly you believe the words of his spokeswoman, he said something like this.

According to The Huffington Post, the asshole told his followers that the 23 year-old student (who remains anonymous under an Indian law protecting the names of rape victims) ‘should have taken God’s name and could have held the hand of one of the men and said, I consider you as my brother, and should have said to the other two “Brother I am helpless; you are my brother, my religious brother”‘. He also said that ‘[s]he should have taken God’s name and held their hands and feet–then the misconduct wouldn’t have happened’ and that ‘[t]he accused were drunk. If the girl had chanted hymns to Goddess Saraswati and to Guru Diksha then she wouldn’t have entered the bus’. And the Hindustan Times reports him as saying, ‘Galti ek taraf se nahi hoti hai (mistake is not committed from one side)’. In other words, the old fool thinks the woman made a mistake by letting the men gang-rape her.

Yeah. Well, you know what his spokeswoman, Niam Dubey, did. She came to his defense. ‘Bapujee never made such statements. He just asked his Delhi Rape Victim Protestwomen followers to avoid such situation[s]’, she said, arguing that ‘[h]e was only suggesting that women should try their level-best to come out from such situation[s] by using diplomatic ways‘ but ultimately admitting that ‘[y]es, he said that the girl had made a mistake by taking an empty bus in night. If she had taken “Matra-Diksha”, the God has might save her anyhow’ [sic]. What the mother-fuck? She’s basically confirming what he has already said but simply rendering his words more vague. So, even if there were some media distortion of Bapu’s words, according to his own spokeswoman he still suggested the woman was equally responsible for her attack.

But, while we all agree (hopefully) that the old man is off his rocker, for the sake of argument let’s take a brief look at each of his remarks and show how deeply mired they are in a mammoth pile of steaming cowshit.

First, he suggests the victim should have invoked God and held one of her attackers’ hands–while being raped. Well, by definition, rape is a non-consensual sex act, meaning forced sex, so how could she have held her attacker’s hand while being pinned down and beaten into submission? It wasn’t as though the rapists were giving her leeway to let her grasp their hands and pray with them. Allegedly, the youngest of the accused attackers (a 17 year-old) was ripping out her bowels bare-handed. I wouldn’t be holding my attackers’ hands; I would be screaming from pain. (Whatever you think of that Asaram Bapu Delhi Rape Victim IIreport, the fact is she had to have almost all of her bowels surgically removed.)

Second, he suggests she should have chanted hymns to the gods and goddesses for protection. How does he know she didn’t? For all he knows, she did. And if she did, it obviously didn’t work, because she was still raped, so what then? Even more, he expects her to spend her time praying to the gods rather than poking, stabbing, or beating her attackers (which, granted, is extremely difficult when there are six of them, but just as tenable, if not more so, as praying to the gods). So, you see, Bapu is presuming that the woman did not do things she very easily may have, as if she is inherently subject to suspicion, or else he is expecting her to be patient and hope for the best, or die like a martyr, rather than fight for her life.

Third, Bapu suggests that if she had prayed hard enough, the victim wouldn’t have entered the bus in which she was raped in the first place. So, it is her fault for travelling in a bus, and not the rapists’ fault for raping her? No. She had every right to take the bus wherever and whenever she wished without fear of being assaulted; her attackers had no right to rape her. She didn’t violate their rights when she got on the bus; they violated hers when they raped her. A woman should not have to design her life around those of marauding rapists. So, no, it was the rapists’ responsibility for choosing to savage her; it was not her responsibility for choosing to enter a bus, which she should have been able to do with ease of mind anyway.

This sort of victim-blaming isn’t relegated to one single tradition. We see it in some strains of New Age beliefs too. Some New Age thinkers believe that every soul comes to earth choosing to endure difficult circumstances in order to learn lessons about good and evil. Taking this argument to its logical conclusion, the girl Delhi Rape Victim Protest IIwho is raped by her uncle chose to have this experience, and meanwhile the man who rapes his niece chose to have that experience, suggesting that both the rapist uncle and the victimized niece are equally responsible for the experience. However, even if both chose their experiences, the niece “chose not to choose” the act, whereas the uncle “chose to choose” the act; moreover, how could the niece know what she had chosen if she has forgotten? Her pre-life alter-ego is committing a crime against her. But more practically speaking, the notion that people choose their experiences before they come to Earth (a handsome speculation) echoes Bapu’s suggestion; it justifies violent crime and victim-blaming when all we know is the victim didn’t choose to be victimized, and, for that reason, it deserves our severest criticism.

Asaram Bapu is obviously full of tired, stale, fly-infested bullshit, but bullshit has a hideous power to lull the masses. What we need to do is call sham spiritual leaders like Bapu on their dung. It is never acceptable to justify rape, because rape by definition is non-consensual sex. If you agree that it is rape, you agree that it is non-consensual, and you agree that there is a perpetrator and a victim. In turn, you agree that the perpetrator, not the victim, is responsible for the crime. I don’t usually condone capital punishment, but I honestly wouldn’t lose any sleep if the monsters who raped the Delhi medical student were euthanised, and Bapu were shamed.

Hillary Clinton, Gay Rights, and Cultural Relativism

12 12 2011

I’m not a cultural relativist. Sometimes customs are culturally relative, and sometimes, quite frankly, they are not. I don’t believe that sexism, racism, child abuse, animal abuse, rape, torture, murder, or homophobia are excusable depending on cultural context, because in each context these atrocities share the traits of hatred, violence, and exploitation committed against a sentient being. Let me get this caveat out of the way first: on some issues we are in no place to judge the practises of other cultures, and on other issues we most certainly are. In return, these other cultures are allowed to judge us on our faults. With that out of the way, LGBT rights are not an imperialist vision; they are a humanist one.

Given my wariness of cultural relativism, I was elated by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s amazing speech at the United Nations in Geneva. In her speech, Clinton declares that the Obama administration will defend LGBT rights as a part of its human rights and foreign policy, and that the President will command all government agencies operating overseas to defend LGBT rights through various diplomatic strategies. She makes several points about how and why the world community should end persecution of LGBT people: first, LGBT rights are human rights; second, homosexuality exists in all cultures; third, religious and cultural beliefs do not justify persecution of LGBT people; fourth, the world must confront persecution of LGBT people, not dismiss it; and fifth, we must employ practical means to obtain equality for LGBT people. All of these points are interesting and relevant, but the most provocative to me are the second and third points, which challenge the cultural relativism cited to defend persecution of LGBT people.

In her second point, Clinton challenges the assumption that homosexuality and LGBT rights are purely Western, imperialist conceptions being foisted on non-Western cultures. This is simply not true, Clinton shows, because homosexuality exists in every culture, and homophobia is a problem in every culture. It is, in other words, a human condition, and creating artificial cultural barriers to LGBT liberation would do a disservice to LGBT people:

Some seem to believe [homosexuality] is a Western phenomenon, and therefore people outside the West have grounds to reject it. Well, in reality, gay people are born into and belong to every society in the world. They are all ages, all races, all faiths; they are doctors and teachers, farmers and bankers, soldiers and athletes; and whether we know it, or whether we acknowledge it, they are our family, our friends, and our neighbours.

And just in case anybody insists there are no examples of efforts to advance LGBT rights in non-Western cultures, Clinton deftly turns the tables:

Being gay is not a Western invention; it is a human reality. And protecting the human rights of all people, gay or straight, is not something that only Western governments do. South Africa’s constitution, written in the aftermath of Apartheid, protects the equality of all citizens, including gay people. In Colombia and Argentina, the rights of gays are also legally protected. In Nepal, the supreme court has ruled that equal rights apply to LGBT citizens. The government of Mongolia has committed to pursue new legislation that will tackle anti-gay discrimination.

Clinton has obviously done her fact-checking (which is to be granted, given that she is America’s chief diplomat): heteronormative sexualities, if not exactly ubiquitous, are well-distributed among the world’s cultures, hence LGBT rights are a relevant concern to all of the world’s cultures. It is now common knowledge among well-informed people that homosexuality, bisexuality, transsexuality, and intersexuality are not the product of a particular culture; they are a product of living organisms in general, from shellfish to human beings. It seems absurd, then, to say that these sexualities are the luxurious fad of one particular society (the West) of one particular species of animal (homo sapiens), hence it seems absurd to suggest that LGBT rights are relevant only to that society or species.

In her third point, Clinton criticises the notion that cultural or religious beliefs somehow justify persecution of LGBT people, and roundly dashes it to pieces. (I exaggerate, but still, she could have, and she probably would have if representatives of countries like Uganda, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Afghanistan weren’t present.) She does this by comparing LGBT rights to the rights of other persecuted peoples. Specifically, she draws an analogy between crimes against LGBT people and crimes against women, both of which derive from patriarchal hegemony:

[The justification for persecuting LGBT people] is not unlike the justification offered for violent practices towards women like honor killings, widow burning, or female genital mutilation. Some people still defend those practices as part of a cultural tradition. But violence toward women isn’t cultural; it’s criminal. Likewise with slavery, what was once justified as sanctioned by God is now properly reviled as an unconscionable violation of human rights.

Cutting off a woman’s clitoris is universally wrong because it causes unspeakable pain, stress, and health problems for the victim, whether she is from Sweden, Somalia, or Seattle. This is because every person of every culture possesses a common human physiology; the nervous systems of all human beings are basically the same. I suspect every woman feels immense pain when she is mutilated, burnt to death, or stoned to death, despite the cultural situation. And when proponents of cultural relativism cite reasons for their stance, those reasons fall nothing short of pathetic: women shouldn’t be allowed to have sex with men other than their husbands, women shouldn’t be allowed to experience sexual pleasure, or women shouldn’t be allowed to live if their husbands die. Forgive me if I find these justifications more solipsistic than utilitarian, and hence hardly socially beneficial. They’re just the laws of self-serving tyrants who view women as mere incubators. Similarly, every gay person experiences unconscionable pain and horror at being hanged or crushed to death for being gay. Opinions, insecurities, and concerns specific to a culture do not justify violence against women or gay people, because we all share the same basic human physiology despite cultural context. I think this is what Clinton was pointing at.

I won’t mince words. Hillary Clinton is right, and the cultural relativists are wrong. Heteronormative sexuality is found everywhere in the world, and LGBT rights are no more culturally relative than women’s or racial minorities’ rights, because all are products of a common human mental and physical experience. For some reason, though, this is a sensitive topic for many anti-imperialists, who often happen to be from the West. It seems to me that a lot of this cultural relativist dogma stems from white, middle-class people who feel guilty about their colonial heritage, and they spout this disingenuous nonsense about relativism to soothe their own conscience. But think about it. Arguing that women’s or LGBT rights are culturally relative is basically discriminating against women and LGBT people who live in countries, like Iran, which don’t recognise their status, and that isn’t very feminist or pro-gay, is it? It isn’t even very pro-human, as Clinton showed, and I can’t help but respect her for sending such a bold, unapologetic message to countries which still use cultural relativism as a loophole to commit human atrocities. It was truly a satisfying vindication of LGBT rights.