The Roots Of Rape? Ctd

A reader writes:

Where are you getting this testosterone and aggression stuff? The link is actually quite weak – decent meta-analyses suggest an average correlation on the order of somewhere between .1 and .2.  For those folks not in the social sciences: that’s nothing.  In psych, we often toss around the sort of joke/spooky fact about the universe that “everything is correlated with everything at about a .25 or so.”  It’s tough to even get below that.  For those less inclined to paging through meta-analyses, this short article describes Testosterone-3D-stickssome of the basics: there is likely causality, but it’s complicated, mediated and moderated by other things (it has to do with social dominance, for instance, which isn’t aggression/violence, necessarily) and it’s likely occurring in both directions.  Doing violent stuff, or winning a game, for that matter, leads to increases in testosterone.  Even educated people – hell, even scientists – these days tend to make quick assumptions about biological causality, especially when involving the brain, neurotransmitters, hormones, etc.  When people hear that some biological phenomenon is correlated with some social/behavioral phenomenon, they quickly leap to seeing the causality in that direction, respectively.  It just ain’t so simple.  And the direct testosterone-aggression link ain’t that big.

Another offers a very different take:

One of the most fascinating episodes of This American Life had a segment that, I think, is highly relevant here. This is Griffin, a trans man, about the effects of being on testosterone:

The most overwhelming feeling is the incredible increase in libido and change in the way that I perceived women and the way I thought about sex. Before testosterone, I would be riding the subway, which is the traditional hotbed of lust in the city. And I would see a woman on the subway, and I would think, she’s attractive. I’d like to meet her. What’s that book she’s reading? I could talk to her. This is what I would say. There would be a narrative. There would be this stream of language. It would be very verbal.

After testosterone, there was no narrative. There was no language whatsoever. It was just, I would see a woman who was attractive or not attractive. She might have an attractive quality, nice ankles or something, and the rest of her would be fairly unappealing to me. But that was enough to basically just flood my mind with aggressive, pornographic images, just one after another. It was like being in a pornographic movie house in my mind. And I couldn’t turn it off. I could not turn it off. Everything I looked at, everything I touched, turned to sex.

The host then asks: “What did you do with that? I mean, what did you think?” And he answers:

Well, I felt like a monster a lot of the time. And it made me understand men.

It made me understand adolescent boys a lot. Suddenly, hair is sprouting, and I’m turning into this beast. And I would really berate myself for it.

I remember walking up Fifth Avenue, there was a woman walking in front of me. And she was wearing this little skirt and this little top. And I was looking at her ass. And I kept saying to myself, don’t look at it, don’t look at it. And I kept looking at it. And I walked past her. And this voice in my head kept saying, turn around to look at her breasts. Turn around, turn around, turn around. And my feminist, female background kept saying, don’t you dare, you pig. Don’t turn around. And I fought myself for a whole block, and then I turned around and checked her out.

And before, it was cool. When I would do a poetry reading, I would get up, and I would read these poems about women on the street. And I was a butch dyke, and that was very cutting-edge, and that was very sexy and raw. And now I’m just a jerk.

Andrew, I very much think that controlling masculinity is one of the greatest challenges any civilization faces, and we’re not addressing it honestly. There is so much energy there, and it can do so much good, and so much evil.

Another reader:

I’m not going to step in the hornet’s nest that you’ve stick-poked with this thread, except to ask this question: Are there any statistics on how prevalent rape is in the modern US compared to a historical average? That is, do we know if (as I suspect) rape has become less common in the modern US than at any other time and place in human history?

I ask this because I think this relates to what annoys me so much about modern feminism generally: There seems to be absolutely no credit offered for progress made. Leave aside rape for a second, because I don’t know the stats and wasn’t able to find any with cursory googling. But I can say that, in general, the US/Western Europe in the modern era offer more opportunity and safety to more women than any other society ever has that has ever existed. And yet, among highly-educated women waxing poetic about the oppressive patriarchy, the men of our society apparently deserve no credit for that. This is a rant and it’s hyperbolic, but gosh darn if it doesn’t feel that way whenever this subject comes up among my (elite set of) peers.

This results in things like: Meetings at the college I attended where women who had been afforded every imaginable educational and achievement opportunity held forth about the terrible conditions of their oppression. Parades and marches and protests to shame men for the crime of being men, and thus privileged. The immediate dismissal of any man’s opinion at will, based on him being part of the problem and probably an asshole besides. These things are not hyperbole. They all actually happened to me in my four years at a prestigious institution of higher learning.