One of the biggest media narratives of 2019 will be the liberal morality play of selective-outrage at the sexual peccadilloes of Donald Trump and his alleged attempts to hide them. It will no doubt run and run. And this may well be just as it should be, although it is worth mentally stepping back and reminding oneself that many much-revered statesmen of former times will have been guilty of very similar behaviour but which was kept well out of the public eye.
We are endlessly told in our Anglosphere media that we now live in a globalised world; and in many ways we do. It is ironic then that when it comes to some global issues – such as the oppression of women by men – that same media is the very essence of parochialism. The casting-couch sexual pressure faced by some Western women on their way up the ladder of fame and fortune is a bigger story than an Indian woman sentenced by village elders to be gang-raped as punishment for the supposed transgressions of her brother and now living in terror of her neighbours.
Then there is the tricky issue of ‘racism’: defined, in media terms, as something of which only white people can be guilty. Liberal preciousness about ‘racism’ means that even within the confines of our wealthy developed world, media coverage of sexual harassment depends on who is doing the harassing. This is why, in the UK, the rape and terrorising of hundreds of non-Muslim girls by gangs of Pakistani men went unreported for years.
It also gives rise to endless media fictions in television drama and advertisements. Like this one: it’s standing room only on a London Underground train…man in a grey suit is staring at the rear of a woman in a white suit. The carriage is roaring and rolling along the tunnel. Man’s stare is steady and menacing. She is oblivious…. until he leans in to her and surreptitiously fingers her bottom. He is white, middle class and around forty. His face has something of the stuck-up, repressed Brit of Hollywood caricature; the curl of his thin upper lip, the damp pallor of his skin and the cold, glazed eyes all suggestive of some kind of droit du seigneur fantasist. She is black, thirty-something and also middle class. Professional in appearance and attractive, she looks like she might one day get cast as one of those alluring TV female special agents, complete with side-arm weapon and karate black belt. She is circumspectly but determinedly ignoring the situation but he persists and eventually, on the pretext of making room for other passengers, he thrusts his groin into her behind just as the train pulls into the next station, where she escapes.
No, this is not a scene from some arthouse film demonstrating the cultural Marxists have been proved right after all and the ongoing need to smash the bourgeoisie. No, this is the sexual harassment public awareness video (below) produced by TFL, the British capital’s Transport for London quango.
The absurd slander that this epidemic of city-gent-gropers really is the typical subway sexual harassment scenario speaks volumes about the mental universe of the advertising agency that produced it and the corporate public relations managers who commissioned it. It is also a window into the UK communications media more generally. UK television is awash with ‘who dunnit’ and maverick sleuth dramas where the villain is invariably white, middle class (often female in fact) and precisely the sort who is statistically least likely to have dunnit in real life. But who cares about that? It’s the new bien pensant moral code: if the world’s real evils are off limits then pick on your own kind and bad-mouth them instead. (I am reminded of another UK quango, the Child Support Agency, whose chief executive came up with a plan to target – no, not the non-payer absentee fathers but the fathers who were already paying (but not quite as much as the CSA calculation). The ‘logic’ was as follows: since these men might be assumed to be half-decent human beings, there was a good chance that they would actually take some notice of CSA’s threatening letters, rather than bin them or give false addresses like the child-abandoners would.)
Is this TFL’s idea of the art of the possible?: to target the very few professional, middle-class bottom-feelers because they are the types who might actually have their consciences pricked by the video (or fear being reported by women galvanised by it) and desist. Whereas the other 99% of real-life molesters could be assumed to be much harder nuts to crack – you might run up against someone’s protected victimhood status, for instance, and have a BBC/Guardian storm on your hands. You could almost wish that it was this kind of cynical spin-doctoring at work. At least that would involve thinking. The truth is worse: that ethno-masochism is now so hard-wired into the white middle class that it thinks for them. The psychology underlying this spiteful little ad will likely be rooted in the complexes that have fuelled the self-attack mentality of the English-speaking middle class for many decades now. The ‘creatives’ will doubtless be ever so PC and their bureaucrat clients too lazy-minded either to have weaned themselves off their own undergraduate group-think or to concern themselves overly much with how well they spend public money.
The phenomenon of sexual harassment is real enough but, as a concept, it has become confused. The term itself was invented in the Seventies; one of a class of new elastic concepts which were supposed to tackle discrimination in its ‘combating-injustice’ sense but had the unintended consequence of eroding discrimination in its ‘difference-between-a-complete monster-and-a-mildly-imperfect-human-being’ sense. Before the advent of the sexual harassment catch all – if you were the kind of man who didn’t try to pester women into going out with you, bully them into sleeping with you, intimidate them into not leaving you….the kind of man who didn’t try to waylay women in the office corridor near the broom cupboard; didn’t try to sidle your sweaty self up next to them on the subway….then you could count yourself a fairly decent sort. Whereas now, a young man hungry for romance can find himself in Catch 22: he knows from ancient folklore that faint heart never won fair lady but he also knows that, in the feminist chic lore of the women’s pages, one definition of sexual harassment is merely being hit on by someone other than the one that you had secretly been wanting it to be.
In the universe beyond Western codes of sexual behaviour there are the millions of women facing something of a different order entirely. If that wicked Trump is found to have made lewd comments or paid some sex-peccadillo hush-money; or if some rich celebrity actress ‘bravely’ confesses to casting-couch experiences on her road to fame, the media is all over it, but stories of the grotesque violence and terror faced by millions of non-white women somehow don’t seem to inspire them so much. Stories like this one may briefly make the inside pages before disappearing without trace from the Western media narrative: “TV footage shows villagers sitting under the girls’ bodies as they swung in the wind, preventing authorities from taking them down… Autopsies confirmed the girls had been gang-raped and strangled before being hanged”.
If you were sexually harassed in northern Nigeria in 2014 you might at least have had the consolation of fifteen minutes of Twitter fame; but #BringBackOurGirls were busy people so had to move on after a couple weeks to the next media outrage. Whatever that was. The media has been almost entirely silent on the home-grown outrage of British girls being shipped off to South East Asia for forced marriages; it has inspired the commissioning of no “brave” TV dramas. Unless it’s the wicked white Westerner who dunnit, many social justice fashionistas are believers in not taking sides or being judgemental which presumably is what countless and nameless women – in a war torn Christian minority enclave, say, or Dalit women in southern Indian villages, or nine-year-old African ‘brides’ – find themselves having to do.
The tragedy is that wilful media selectivity in its focus on sexual oppression — as with the ever-widening politically correct definition of it — merely serves as a kind of virtue-signalling parlour game and medialand distraction from what arguably should be the single biggest issue in the world today. Furthemore, ‘third wave’ feminism also serves to shut down any grown-up discussion of what is, in reality, a maddeningly complex subject: the dynamics of male/female human sexual relations.
Mainstream media ‘women’s pages’, for example, are full of coy little pieces in which feminist journos gush faux exasperation with those awful predatory and promiscuous beings called men but never seem to do the maths and work out that a world where some men have ten women is also a world where other men (ten times the number in fact) are either cuckolded or have none. They perhaps also keep from admitting to themselves that, in the elite world of their imagination, it is only those types of men that even figure.