Over the past few days there has been a lot of internet activity, including here, related to Josh Jasper’s controversial video in which his organization, The Riverview Center, uses an infant boy in a commercial as a message enhancer for an anti-rape campaign.
In the first article I wrote on the subject, I passed on a detailed explanation of what was wrong with the ad, opting instead to just tag it with res ipsa loquitor. For those of you who don’t see the problem with the video, that means “The thing speaks for itself.” Only it apparently doesn’t for some, at least not in the right language, so I suppose I should be charitable enough to explain it to such unfortunates with more tutelage in mind.
I warn you in advance that if you don’t now see a problem with Jasper’s ad, or better yet think he is doing a good thing, then you may want to stop reading now, because very shortly you will have to start lying to yourself – and perhaps everyone else – in order to maintain your position.
First let’s take the pivotal, penultimate statement from the video that caused such offense (aside from the use of a baby to drive in the message).
“Redefine what it means to be a man.”
Redefine, as in change our understanding, of manhood. Jasper is saying that manhood, as we understand it now, needs to be changed because an inherent part of being a man is being a possible rapist. And he deduces that the probability of a man becoming a rapist is so likely that we don’t just need to do what we already do, which is take a very dim view of rape and punish those who commit it harshly, but that we actually need to change manhood itself, because in some way manhood is the problem.
Are you with me so far, or are you searching the creative side of your brain for a rationale to explain how what Jasper is saying isn’t really what Jasper is saying? Maybe you have already skipped that part and moved on to just tell yourself that almost anything he could say is good because it is against rape?
Whatever you are doing, if you are not convinced that Jasper has just told you that men are inherently rapists, then you are most certainly employing some mental mechanism in your mind that is the equivalent of putting your fingers in your ears and shouting “la-la-la-la-la-I-am-not list-en-ing-to-you!”
Please bear with me. I only dwell on this because if you are already avoidant of dealing with the truth, the rest of this article will be a waste of your time.
This is an absolutely crucial point, Riverview fans. This is where your cognitive dissonance, or your dishonesty, will start governing your perceptions, or at least what you will admit to. You will need to tell yourself, casting aside all rhyme and reason, “No, he is not saying that.”
Yes, he is saying that very thing exactly. And it commands those being honest with themselves and others to question, if he is not saying that, then why would he be talking about a redefinition of what it means to be a man in the first place?
OK, now we move from there, the assumption that rape is an integral part of manhood that we can ameliorate by reengineering a boy to be a different kind of man than his father, to the path we will take to get there. The narrator opens as follows:
He’s tough. He’s strong. He’s aggressive. He’s powerful.
These are the hallmarks of masculine nature that Jasper is identifying for anyone to see; and reasonably assumed to be the characteristics of manhood that need to be changed so the baby boy in the commercial doesn’t grow up to become a rapist. Pause to digest that, allowing your cognitive dissonance to resolve itself before you move on.
Ready now? Good.
To his credit, and in a moment of clarity, Jasper has actually stumbled on to a half-truth. Those characteristics are generally considered to be masculine traits in human males. Whether by genetics or socialization or a combination of both, these are the qualities that we value, expect, and respect in men.
Why? Well, for one the human race would have been a dead end evolutionary experiment if men were not that way. Survival has its demands. I would expect that was particularly true 3,000,000 years ago on the African Savannah. But more relevant to modern times is that this is still what we expect of men in order to protect and provide for families as well as their societies.
But just one more of many problems for Jasper here is that none of these characteristics are demonstrably causal of rape any more than they are of armed robbery or becoming a police officer or a marine. Sure, rapists and marines may share many of the same traits, but Jasper is contending that the same exact traits that lead men to rape women also lead men to lay down their lives to protect them.
If this were true, changing the nature of manhood would not only prevent rape, but would also prevent men from stopping rape. Quite the paradox, eh?
Can we go on, or do you need another break to digest that? Are you still with me or just repeating to yourself, “But he is trying to stop rapists! Honest!” If so, take five and a few deep breaths. When you come back, please ask yourself: Does it not seem more plausible then that there is something else that differentiates men who take the path of protecting women from those that take the path of raping them?
If you are still struggling to answer that one, please check your dissonance meter again. It might be spiking into the red zone. And if you are telling yourself that you don’t care, simply because the message is ultimately one you approve of, please check your sense of moral decency. It isn’t much better than your average rapist, and maybe worse.
Unfortunately, this is not the worst of the message Jasper is peddling.
Let us just follow his line of logic, again if we are to be generous enough to call it that, and look at the somewhat less blatant conclusions he is drawing.
If it is characteristic of men to be tough, strong, aggressive and powerful, and that results not in protective guardians and providers for our society but the tragedy of rapists victimizing innocents, then the solution, as Jasper is clearly pointing to in this commercial, is obvious.
We need to engineer men who are fragile, weak, meek and powerless. And we have to start that in the cradle, hammering it in with a toxic dose of innate shame and self-loathing for having been born male.
There’s your “redefinition of manhood,” ala Josh Jasper. And if you buy into it, I pray you have no sons, or access to anyone else’s.
There is much more to this than meets the average person’s eye because what the average person doesn’t know about gender politics in western culture could fill a library.
For many years now, feminist academicians and politicians have worked diligently to promote the idea that men, by their nature, are just plain bad, and that they must be remolded into the feminist ideal in order to pass muster as human beings. It is called misandry; a word that will still get red lined on most spell checks, but it means the hatred or contempt for men and boys, and it is a very real, toxic ideology that sells like hotcakes because it has, well, been sold like Riverview Center Anti-Rape Ads. In other words, hating men sells because the culture has been taught to hate men, just as Riverview is teaching you to now.
It’s a self-feeding tumor that has popularized the notion that men are in need of social reconstruction, arguably so they will be less of a threat to the society that they built and have protected for countless generations. We have seen it played out in simple memes like, “Boys are stupid, throw rocks at them,” but it hardly stops there.
There are many other ways this is happening. And the 33 seconds of hate speech being peddled by the Riverview Center is just another symptom of the problem.
Above the vehement objections of alumni, many faculty and concerned parents, Hamilton College now requires all freshmen males to attend a class called “She Fears You.” taught by another man of Jasper’s ilk, Keith Edwards.
All the men attending Hamilton are herded into an auditorium on day one and told they are all potential rapists, and that this is rooted in their masculinity. Interestingly enough, no alarms are sent to the families of freshmen women that they have chosen to send their daughters to a school inhabited by men who are all, each and every one, potentially going to rape their daughters.
No bucks in that last part. No, none at all.
And in the end, bucks are what we are really talking about.
Anti-rape efforts have become a well-heeled, thoroughly monetized industry in western culture. Flying in the face of Josh Jasper’s recent comment that rape is a subject that “no one wants to talk about,” is a flourishing expanse of agencies and organizations that are not talking about anything else. Indeed, Josh Jasper makes his living and employs a staff from talking about rape.
And it is clear he will do whatever it takes to foster more rent seeking.
I don’t think anyone in their right mind would find fault in the idea of curbing any sort of crime, but criminalizing the sex of half the population is not the way to go about it.
Holy shit, am I really having to tell people that?
If you are still not convinced, allow me to challenge you to answer some very simple questions. What would you think if the baby in that commercial had been black? In fact, please come up with one social ill for which you think it is fair and legitimate to target any other monolithic group because of the actions of a few. What group of human beings are you willing to put out there and say, “We need to change the meaning of what it means to be a….” Fill in the blank as you see fit:
- African American?
I am betting that those of you who thought Jasper’s commercial was a good idea would not come up with a single choice from that list, even though you think it fair to target men in exactly the same way. I am betting that men are the only group on the planet for which you feel justified in pointing at and alleging innate evils.
That is misandry in action, and it is a form of hate just as surely as any other. Your good intentions or concerns about rape don’t license you to practice hatred in a culture that is trying to rise above it.
Still, you are entitled to feel that way if you like. Hell, even neo Nazi’s are entitled to their beliefs.
But don’t drag our children down with you. And for those who insist on doing it, there is a growing number of people willing to put a stop to it.
[Addendum: Please observe that at this very moment Jasper is back peddling, of sorts. He is now appealing for other bloggers to "Unite" in the name of the ignored male victims of sexual violence, and is seeking our input on producing a commercial that addresses this. Don't buy it. The thunderous anger from across the country that slapped Jasper in the face has just registered with him - but only as a needed demographic. He is now approaching the very people he has demonized and is trying to enlist their support. How transparent can you get?]