Modern society shuts its eyes easily and willingly. We don’t want to see evil, or trouble ahead. And even for those that do, it must always be in measured amounts. They will squint, so that only some of the light comes through, leaving them with an incomplete picture.
Mrs. ktc clued me in to an example of this, found in this article by Camille Paglia- The Modern Campus Cannot Comprehend Evil. A few choice excerpts:
Wildly overblown claims about an epidemic of sexual assaults on American campuses are obscuring the true danger to young women, too often distracted by cellphones or iPods in public places: the ancient sex crime of abduction and murder. Despite hysterical propaganda about our “rape culture,” the majority of campus incidents being carelessly described as sexual assault are not felonious rape (involving force or drugs) but oafish hookup melodramas, arising from mixed signals and imprudence on both sides.
There is a ritualistic symbolism at work in sex crime that most women do not grasp and therefore cannot arm themselves against. It is well-established that the visual faculties play a bigger role in male sexuality, which accounts for the greater male interest in pornography. The sexual stalker, who is often an alienated loser consumed with his own failures, is motivated by an atavistic hunting reflex. He is called a predator precisely because he turns his victims into prey.
Misled by the naive optimism and “You go, girl!” boosterism of their upbringing, young women do not see the animal eyes glowing at them in the dark. They assume that bared flesh and sexy clothes are just a fashion statement containing no messages that might be misread and twisted by a psychotic. They do not understand the fragility of civilization and the constant nearness of savage nature.
Ms. Paglia is able to notice the animal eyes which glow in the dark. She can see the male predators out there. What she fails to see [or at least, acknowledge], however, are the predators in her midst.
You see, those women whom Ms. Paglia describes as naive are, in their own respect, just as feral as the men that she warns about. As a society we are quick to decry feral men, the male predators lurking in the dark. But we ignore the female predators who walk among us. We are quick to point out the evil in men, but balk at doing the same in women.
Someone like Ms. Paglia sees “bared flesh and sexy clothes” and worries about “messages that might be misread and twisted by a psychotic.” Her time, and society, would be better served by thinking [and talking] about what messages are intentionally sent with “bared flesh and sexy clothes” and how they are correctly read.
It is no accident that young women dress that way. Naivete has nothing to do with it. Women know, instinctively, the power their bodies have over men, and they use that power to get what they want: male attention and validation. Young women who dress that way are tempting men, they are provoking a sexual response in the deepest recess of the male psyche. Do men want this? For the most part, yes. Men like viewing attractive female flesh as much as attractive females like showing it. But that doesn’t change the nature of what these women are doing- they are tempting men, setting stumbling blocks before them. And even worse, they deny all the while that they are doing any of that. They claim empowerment as their rationale- as obvious a lie as any ever told.
Much is said by a few around these parts about how men push young women for sex in relationships (or push for sex instead of relationships). Yet in the present environment women push for it too (only they will deny it later if confronted). Don’t believe me? Go ask Ballista, he will have a story or two for you. I’m sure that Chad and Martel have similar tales to tell of women who pushed for sex right away. If you have been paying attention to the news lately (especially about female teachers sleeping with their students), you will know that women can be sexual predators too. Yet all together we as a society will ignore or downplay the dark side of female sexuality. We refuse to acknowledge that evil inherent in unrestrained female sexuality.
Message to Camille Paglia:
It isn’t just the modern campus that cannot comprehend evil- it is the whole of society. You see only that evil which you want to see, and nothing more.
Update: In case it wasn’t clear, the main thrust of this post was that we only recognize certain kinds of evil these days. Overt violence being the prime example. But other, subtler evils are not recognized or called out. I wanted to point out that Ms. Paglia was making much the same error that she was accusing college campuses of making.
Update 2: Sir Nemesis has questioned my criticism of Paglia. He argues that just because she hasn’t called out other evils, doesn’t means she doesn’t recognize them. Theoretically this might be true. However, I’m not familiar with her ever having done so. But focusing on what she specifically, has said or believes would be a mistake. This post is about more than just her. I’ve corrected the above post (with some additions and a strike-through), to try and make that more clear. The overall point, once again, was how some evils are recognized and acknowledged, and others aren’t. And there is a pattern to this which should be noticeable to those of us who give it careful thought.