Thursday, September 25, 2014

'Together we can end the horror of unwanted kissing!'

"A kiss is still a kiss..."
I'm not backtracking on my vow to be "done with" women's issues; I'm simply going to let syndicated columnist Jonah Goldberg* do my dirty work for me. I commend to you his op-ed exposing the bogus stats that underlie today's "sexual-assault crisis" and the White House's frangible "It's On US" initiative. Here's one quick quote about the "rape epidemic" that supposedly victimizes one in five women on college campuses:

The dubious stat, writes Goldberg:
"comes from tendentious Department of Justice surveys that count 'attempted forced kissing' and other potentially caddish acts that even the Justice Department admits 'are not criminal.' ... According to a [DOJ] survey, more than half the respondents said they didn't report the assault because they didn't think 'the incident was serious enough to report.' "
I haven't vetted Goldberg's facts but I tend to think he would not go public with this kind of debunkery if he weren't on sufficiently solid ground.
* Goldberg, of course, is a conservative stalwart, and not the kind of social theorist with whom I'd normally find much in common nowadays. But I deem it significant that today's social currencies increasingly have put me in league with the forces from "the other side"and I don't think I'm alone in that regard. I'm telling you, people, whether it's women or blacks or illegal immigrants, this "entitlement overreach" is turning off a lot of us who used to be sympathetic. I know that I should vote for Hillary, assuming she runswhich she willbut I gotta tell you, she worries me. I don't think I could stomach four or eight more years of the prevailing sociopolitical ethos. Barack and his attorney general have been grievous disappointments on that score.


RevRon's Rants said...

Steve, I have a question for you. Imagine that someone "forcibly kissed" your wife/daughter/dear friend, despite her vehement protestations, and you punched the guy for doing so. Whom do you think would be most appropriately charged with a crime - you or the other guy? And do you believe that punching him would be an appropriate response, legal issues notwithstanding?

Steve Salerno said...

I don't know, Ron. I do know that a kiss is not a rape--no more than a punch, by itself, is a homicide. And when a group with an agenda knowingly includes kissing in stats meant to provide a snapshot of sexual assaults--when we redefine a kiss as forcible rape, and that is allowed to stand--then terms lose all meaning. I think your punch question is a canard and a diversion. I stand by what Goldberg wrote.

We are writers, you and I, and we are pledged to use words and terms correctly.

RevRon's Rants said...

Do you not believe that an unwanted kiss - particularly one that has been assertively rebuffed - constitutes an assault, and that it is sexual in nature?

Steve Salerno said...

Ron, please don't take this the wrong way--it could come off as being patronizing or dismissive, neither of which I intend. (I think you know me well enough to now that I'm sincere.) But--are you serious?? I remember my old Italian aunts planting smackers on me, right on the lips, that were thoroughly unwanted...was that pedophilia? Was I a victim of child abuse? I truly cannot get inside the mindset you're urging on me. At all. Anything else I say will make me sound like a smart-ass so I'll stop because I don't mean to be a smart-ass and I respect you far too much to go on in that vein.

Can we just keep our own counsel and agree to disagree on this one?

RevRon's Rants said...

Your response didn't feel patronizing or dismissive; merely addressing a wholly different context. And context is everything, Steve. Modify your hypothetical situation a bit. Say your hypothetical uncle Sal planted a sloppy one - with tongue-induced tonsil tickling - on a 15-year-old niece, who was trying her best to get away without offending her amorous uncle. Yeah, I'd call it pedophilia, and IMO, the girl's father would be within his rights to clean Sal's clock. And especially if Sal's behavior was part of a pattern, it might well be appropriate to report him if he couldn't be dissuaded from his amorous advances.

We obviously do disagree. Hopefully, I won't have to turn in my Salerno Sycophant ID card as a result. :-)

Steve Salerno said...

Widening the lens, Ron, I just think we are way too uptight about sex in almost any case/context. When I was young there were things we used to do "playfully" (to our own or the other gender) that now would be redefined as sexual assault. (Even as late as college--early 1970s--it was not that unusual for a girl to just walk up to you and "cup you," if you get my meaning, which I'm sure you do. Was that assault?) For that matter, there were things we used to say on the playgrounds of Brooklyn--routinely--that would now be cause for a lockdown and an arrest for terroristic threats. (Rare was the day when somebody didn't threaten to kill somebody else...and in the moment, they meant it, too.)

I DO NOT mean to imply that we should "laugh off" rape or violence, but as a society we've lost our sense of humor and our ability to just shrug off acts that--really, in the larger scheme of things--are no big deal. And I think it's counterproductive. The more we tighten the screws, the more, well, uptight people get--which means they'll either explode outwardly or (more likely) boil over inwardly and devolve into a giant ball of anxiety and stress. I've seen it happen in workplaces that embraced zero-tolerance policies about this or that.

In any case, life is less fun.

RevRon's Rants said...

Now, it's *my* turn to sound patronizing. As I said before, context is EVERYTHING. I've been "cupped" more times than I can count, and have copped a feel about as many times, but both behaviors were limited *only* to girls with whom I was familiar (and who were familiar with me). To this day, when we get together with my best friend and his wife, I grab a handful of her tush when we hug, and it is laughed off as the innocent gesture it is. If I did the same to a woman with whom that degree of familiarity wasn't there, I'd fully expect to get slapped or punched by her partner, and appropriately so.

"Zero tolerance" is a foolish policy where social interaction is involved, and in most other cases, as well. As I said, we need to be conscious of the context, and model our behaviors accordingly.

Steve Salerno said...

I buy that, Ron, today. But this is back in the 70s we're talking, and the cupping and nipple-pinching was perpetrated by (and to) people who knew each other only by sight from across "the caf" or "the quad." A very familiar atmosphere. I could also tell you stories about selling wall mirrors in Noo Yawk shortly thereafter, at the height of women's sexual liberation, and the "tips" I'd receive from appreciative female customers. Or perhaps it's more accurate to say that they took my tip.

Strangest part: I was sometimes greeted at the door by women in varying stages of undress who had no idea who'd be showing up that they were obviously prepared to bang whoever did, or at least leave no illusions about the fact that they were entertaining the idea. Not a few of 'em were (technically) married. It was a wild, wild time.