Our society is wounded and people’s willingness to pour salt is so great that the flood of salt has completely covered the wound to the point where most people don’t even realize the wound exists. In recent years, we’ve seen a been a growing backlash toward women, namely increased attacks on our reproductive freedoms, a decrease in our income levels, and a growing acceptance of the idea that we are responsible for what our attackers do to us.
The wound of discrimination is deep, but people’s salty, indifferent attitudes have not only covered it up, but have solidified it as an ought. How can we even start to stitch the wound if we can’t even acknowledge it’s there? Worse, how can we cover it with salt when we don’t even know the full composition of the salt we’re pouring and how it’s damaging the wound we won’t acknowledge?
One of the many scary things about the backlash against women is that people you think shouldn’t support it, namely atheists and skeptics who love to blame religion as the source of patriarchy and female oppression, are some of the biggest apologists for it. There is this terrifying, science-based “support” people want to give it. With NO OTHER form of discrimination do people so quickly turn to “biology,” and, “evolution,” and, “hard wiring.” You don’t see many people saying, “Well, there’s not much to be done about racism. White people are hard wired to hate black people and it’s been a necessary part of our biological and social evolution.” Yet, these kinds of arguments are thrown at female oppression ALL THE TIME as if they are totally sane and logical.
It’s the perfect example of the is-ought problem. While we can’t throw out data just because we don’t like what it says, we can distinguish an is from an ought. It COULD be (I don’t know because I’m not a scientist and I don’t have any hard data) that, yes, men are wired to see women as property. If so, that would be an is. The irresponsibility of the “scientific” mindset comes in when we accept this is and ignore the ought, “Well, that’s just the science. Nothing to be done….”
Other folks like to take a less scientific approach and say, “Well, it used to be worse. It’s gotten better, and while it’s still not good, it’s just a sign of the times! You have to be patient. It’s unfortunate, but that’s how it is! Nothing to be done….” Similarly, not only is it refusing to establish an ought, it’s implying implying a terrifying is. Women should have some sort of bizarre gratitude that, hey, you know, more women used to get raped and NOBODY cared or was prosecuted because nobody even thought of it as a problem. Don’t you know how lucky you are to be an American? Look at how women are treated under the Taliban. I mean, just think how much better you have it. Also, more rapists are using condoms now, so you might still get raped, but at least your chances of getting AIDS and knocked up and forced to have a child you don’t want and can’t support are way less!
A smaller number of cowards hide behind “free speech.” While I am, always have been, and always will be a gigantic proponent of free speech, again, when it comes to sexism, free speech is an acceptable defense and cul-de-sac of the is and it embarrassingly and obviously neglects the ought. Yes, bigots and sexists do have the exact same rights to free speech as anyone else and I would die before I would take that away from them, but then so do you. Why are YOU suddenly silent? The answer to bad speech is more speech, and we know that, so when it comes to any other form of hate speech, we have reactionary speech. If someone says, “nigger,” or “raghead,” or, “faggot,” on TV, the public shows its outrage to the point where careers are ruined (which I also don’t support, but that’s another argument for another time). Yet, you can spread all the hate you want about women and people cower behind free speech and say, “Well, he has the same freedom as I do to speak. It is what it is. Nothing to be done…” No, apparently he has MORE freedom to speak and much bigger balls than you because he puts his cock out there and inserts it into your face and the only time you open your mouth is to swallow his ejaculation of hate. You don’t open it to bite back, or even to say no.
There are two disastrously damaging consequences of these irresponsible attitudes. By using any of them, we are normalizing and perpetuating female discrimination, thus allowing the is to be the ought. To call it “science,” even if it is hard data, to call it, “a sign of the times,” even if it’s still awful, to call it, “free speech,” even if it is a right, is to say that it’s somehow an acceptable inevitability, like gravity, and that there is no need or ability to establish an ought, or, in this case, an ought not. People with deeply seeded sexism love to fall back on these arguments to try to cover their own naked insensibility because they think, because they seem easy and acceptable cloaks behind which to hide.
Worse than hiding from a problem is refusing to fix that problem. These attitudes allow not only give folks a good hiding place, they allow people to absolve themselves of responsibility for the results of shame and cowardice. Men who know that there IS a huge problem with social attitudes toward women adopt these attitudes so they don’t have to look in the mirror and tell themselves, “I am a good man, therefore, tt is my responsibility to make this situation better, to talk to other people, to teach what it means to be a good man and to support other men in this process.” Rather, they stop at, “I am a good man,” and the quickly turn to, “but…biology…evolution…sign of the times…free speech…could be worse…nothing to be done.”
This is an example of how the evil of indifference supersedes the evil of ill intent. The very men who should and could be a part of this movement to end discrimination against women aren’t, and it brings me to the core of why I despise religion, pseudo-science, conspiracy theories and even sometimes REAL science. They’re all scapegoats, cloaks, closets, security blankets and they all remove the ought by replacing it with an is. God has a plan, so I don’t have to do anything, the corporations are out to get me, so I can’t help myself, the science says women are property, so I can’t argue. Now, pass me the chips, Tosh.0 is on.
Acknowledge the wound, stop pouring the salt, and start the stitching because we’re never going to heal as a society if we don’t realize how injured we are.