25 May 2014

A thing I don't get, mixed with one I do

I have always what for others must seem a strange detached reaction when something terrifying happens. I start processing it for the question not of "how could this happen" but usually something more like "why doesn't this happen more often". And in fact, in some ways, it does happen more often, it just doesn't happen in the same way (1 or 2 people getting killed by someone is a different kind of story than 15) or to people that make the news (eg, non-college aged healthy white people, or their children).

The general takeaway I have from senseless violence is that it doesn't happen very often. And this is usually because it is in fact senseless. We don't live in a comic book world where the villains cause dismay and mayhem constantly to the point that nobody could afford to live in Metropolis or Gotham (or NYC) because of the insurance claims from repeated devastation. I consider that a good thing even if it is of no comfort to people whose lives are directly impacted.

Still. The logical requirements that lead someone to punish innocent people for... whatever it is they think deserves punishment, I have a problem following. I can sometimes follow the rage that blinds people into a corner. I've seen people behave irrationally, and I used to experience this myself, because of heavy emotional burdens of anger. Directed at? Who knows. It's just there. I don't find that to be that alien of a connection that I would somehow see everyone who gets angry and plots to kill a bunch of people that strange. That's why I find it curious it doesn't happen all the time. Clearly we have a society that fosters pretty good anger management, or at least anger re-direction, if with sometimes poor results. This probably explains a PTSD case that snaps. Or someone who takes a strong racial or cultural or religious animus wayyyy too seriously. I don't condone these things. But I know where they came from. I've felt that kind of blinding rage. I didn't go out and kill anyone over it but I could say I know where it comes from. In a darker mood, it's not even that challenging to imagine violent scenarios involving death. This is not the same as plotting a violent act, acquiring the necessary supplies, and carrying it out. There needs to be a lot more than the rage at play, a specific purpose. And that I have a harder time following but I can acknowledge there's a path there that apparently is harder to stray down far enough than we think at times like this (because for a country of 300M people, it doesn't seem to happen that often), but still much easier than it should be (because if it happens at all, then it's suggesting a problem).

What that doesn't explain is these repeated cases of sexually frustrated folks, men obviously, snapping into violent outbursts involving manifestos about how terrible women are because "I can't get laid". The logic of "if I can't fuck it, I will kill it" does not compute here, or at least I have a hard time seeing where it comes from. There's other people out there who might find someone attractive and amusing for such things if someone in particular rejects the approach. The logic of the world, and the people in it, owing you something, particularly team building exercises for your penis, does not compute either. It's a sense that people are objects, playthings for amusement and they're not playing the game the way "I want", in so far as they won't do what I want them to do. Most of us probably engage in a variation of this where other people are concerned but this seems like a very extreme theory of mind problem that just rejects the prospect of agency entirely. Obviously the problem could not be with the approach or offers. It must be with the people who are turning down such offers, or not even recognizing that they are being made.

I suspect this style of self-aggrandizing sexuality explains a large portion of motivations for rape. Which is awful enough to contemplate. I still don't quite get from there, the idea that somehow, somewhere, every woman (or man) must actually want to have sex with me, because of how they looked at me or how they were dressed or how they were dancing or whatever, as asinine a thought as that is (and for men at least, a rather common perspective, just not one that is necessarily commonly acted upon), to "because they won't have sex with me, I must hurt them". Maybe I come at this problem from an entirely opposed perspective, where I consider the likelihood much higher that the reason someone won't have sex is because you're acting like you're supposed to be anointed sex god that all lesser mortals are to be in awe of. I hate to break it to people, mostly because I shouldn't have to, but as wonderful as some human beings are at sex, or as wonderful as it could be to have sex with them, there tends to be some underlying requirements of "don't be a dick" to get around to using said dick. Treating other human beings as objects for sexual gratification and amusement is pretty high on the "don't be a dick" creed of things not to do. This is not very complicated.

But it seems to be very complicated to explain to human males, particularly younger human males. My younger self, as could be expected given my social issues, was not a ladies' man either. I did not hold that against an entire gender. I found, rather easily, it was an issue with me, or at least that it must have been an issue with me that I did not fully comprehend. It still is in some respects. The only way to try to resolve that question was to begin to talk to some women or, perhaps more importantly, listen to them. Talking to men about women seems a useless prospect if the goal is to learn about women in a general sense, or in a sexual sense, or really almost any subject at all in relation to women. Women are far more interesting to converse on any of these questions, regardless of what kind of relationship is involved that supplies such conversations.

That specific question ultimately has had more to do with whether I get along with other human beings at all, not just the female of the species. Or more precisely, whether I want to get along with other human beings at all or whether I want them to get along with me. Those are rarely aligned prospects, and even if they are aligned, they're not inherently suggestive of a prospect of forming a sexual relationship. Even with otherwise sexually attractive individuals. Eg, I'd like to get along with this woman and relate to her in a non-pants-off scenario too and if that's not happening, I'd rather just read a book than get laid. Because I would get bored with the relationship otherwise from past experience. Since forming new relationships of any kind is tedious for me and consumes a lot of energy rather than fuels and invigorates me (in most circumstances), this helps cut down on the possibilities. In fact, it is far more likely that I miss suggestive signals of interest that other people communicate to me than that I over-interpret such signals. Much less that I would act upon those signals.

Despite that internal complexity, the underlying issue of forming sexual relationships is still not very hard to do. It's probably too easy to do actually for most of us if we just paid attention (though not quite bonobo easy where sex is a handshake practically, but still). Which leads back to this psycho-sexual position of "if I can't fuck it, I will kill it". It seems like a portion of this is a desire to be part of the sexual dynamics of "college", or "the culture", or whatever it is that it is perceived that sex is somehow an easy commodity to come by and that by not getting any sex, this is being missed out on. It actually "isn't" that easy, it's just not that complicated to pay attention to when sex is available, and when it is not and follow along. Human beings are set up by evolution to communicate sexual interest, of an actual variety, both for reproductive purposes and social purposes. Since 99% of the time we don't have sex in order to reproduce, but more because it's an enjoyable experience, it's something that we humans have adopted methods to say so to each other, or to say that we think it might be an enjoyable experience, and so on.

Somewhere along the line, most of us, or at least most men, seem to get the point that if they're not having sexual success in that communication loop, or relationship success more broadly which involves a sexual component, the proper reaction is to wonder "what I have been doing" and "what could I do differently", and then ask someone with some appropriate wisdom (generally a woman of some patience, if one is heterosexual obviously), or work through it with trial and error (again with women of some patience). I don't quite understand what the difference is for this small minority that ends up with a violent "fuck you all" reaction to that process of what amounts to socialisation (eg, learning how to talk to and relate to members of a preferred sexual partnership).

I do understand a more general sense of objectification or sexual competitiveness and its related jealousies. I don't engage in it, so far as I am aware, but I am aware of the existence of such thinking. Mostly because it generally offends me. And that might be where this comes along as a recognized issue that I have difficulty processing. It isn't something I have any interest in. I do not experience a strong sense of possessiveness with sexuality. I am loathe to identify someone I have semi-regular sex with as "my" girlfriend, or lady friend as is more commonly my reference, and I don't experience some variety of competitive instinct that I should need to have sex with X numbers of women, or some arbitrary and subjectively defined attractive type of woman to demonstrate my virility to other men. I am often indifferent to what other men think or do actually and don't find these to be informative statements about their quality as men or as human beings. I can't recall ever having a significant or semi-serious conversation on sex with other men as a result, much less feeling some jealous ambition that they are or were experiencing sexual activity on a semi-regular to regular basis and I was not. It is unclear to me what this would prove or provide as useful evidence that women involved in such efforts should not already validate or provide much more constructive feedback about. And yet it seems to be a motivating feature for violent actions between some percentage of men. I find this utterly baffling. Paying more attention to women seems a much more constructive method of having successful relationships, sexual or otherwise, and more likely to be demonstrative of virility through sex than bragging about it to other men, or parading a series of women as "conquests" and so on. I am not sure I can understand what causes this breakdown as a result.
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