a philosophy blog

Stephenson: crime is a masculine statement (II)

Bianco Luno’s notes on June Stephenson’s Men are Not Cost-Effective

  I   |  II  |  III 

Law Enforcement

Them, too. The people who protect us: watch out for them. They are cut of the same cloth. Often enough it is firefighters who start fires and policemen who commit violent crimes.

“Arson is the only crime where the suspect sticks around,” said John Orr, the captain of the Glendale Fire Department. That was his statement in July 1990, after sixty-seven homes were destroyed by an arsonist in Glendale, California; the temperature soared to 105 degrees with the combined effect of fire whipped by raging winds.

The arsonist was the arson specialist, Fire Capt. John Orr, who was arrested in 1992 for setting the Glendale fire and several others, including one in Fresno, where he was attending a conference for arson investigation. He is serving a thirty-year prison sentence.

Orr had written a book called Points of Origin in which he fictionalized an arsonist attack. It led to an investigation that resulted in further charges including murder. He was accused of setting a fire in 1984 that killed four people.

“When females are [were] involved in any arson, their gender was [is] invariably pointed out.” (A reference to an article in Psychology Today, January 1985.)


Young firestarters are generally what would be called normal middle-class youths.


In California, an annual average of 1,250 fires are caused by arsonists, and only 15% of the arsonists have been arrested and convicted.

Setting the Crime Scene

Men often create the conditions for the exercise of heroism. [Recall Ayn Rand’s essay, “The Ethics of Emergencies.”]

In Houston, Texas a veteran policeman [Oliver Brown] who had been named officer of the year in 1989 for rescuing people from fires was arrested for setting fire to a parsonage of the Mt. Zion Baptist Church, the city’s oldest black Baptist church…

From the hills of Malibu Canyon down to the Pacific Ocean, a huge blaze that began on November 2, 1993, lasted four days, killed three people, destroyed 350 homes, and caused $375 million in damages. Six months later two male firefighters… were called to testify before a grand jury… the arson specialists concluded that the fire was caused by an open blaze, with the suspects allegedly planning to start the fire, to put it out, and to be hailed as heroes.

All in all, except for the S&L financial losses, arson crimes represent the largest crime-related financial losses in U.S. History, amounting to over $1.5 billion in 1991…

[We skip the chapter on crime in government. As endemic as it is in that environment, it seems out of place to address it here. “Crime,” the word as normally used, is a legal institution and governments create such institutions. Governments literally take crime to “a whole other level” that deserves special treatment. Needless to say, government is a nudist colony for the power-hungry. External genitalia prevail there.]


One in four women in Los Angeles County will be raped in her lifetime. [The figure is consistent with FBI statistics for all women in the U.S.]

…one in eight women in this country [has] been raped. [One of the eight already has, one will be—to keep the statistic true that one in four is raped at least once in her life.]

Whether it is a man who stops to help a stalled female motorist and then rapes her before proceeding home to his wife and children or a man who prowls the neighborhood looking in windows for potential rape victims, inside most of these men is a deep anger, a rage against something in their lives of which they may not be aware.

… If, because of child abuse, many men commit violent acts in anger, or for the need of power, the question must be asked why this is not true also for the female child-abuse victim. [A question Stephenson addresses later in connection with sexual differences in parenting.]

Some rape counselors see rape as a sexual act, and some see it as an act of aggression. The consensus is that it is both.

[Stephenson seems content to repeat these saws about male motivation. It is obvious that it is both. More interesting is the form violence and sex take in men compared to women.

Anger? Something closer to resentment at being born and being born male in particular. The feeling of inappropriate existence—men do not notice this feeling in women, whose every aspect seems grounded, by contrast, in a nature-given setting.]

…a rapist is almost never cured.

[Perhaps because being a rapist is not a disease. It is a predisposition, varying in pungency, of all men. It is through effort of will that a man sometimes manages to convey the appearance of not robbing a woman of her birth right to choose when and with whom she shares her body. That the act of sexually attending to her as he does is robbery is difficult for him to comprehend because he does not have the same relation to his own body. His body may as well be hers as far as he is concerned. It came out of hers. If he has anything to claim as his own it is his will. And the act of forcing it is its consummate exercise. It is what freedom or autonomy mean natively to him.

There are cultural rituals into which he channels his otherwise rapist tendencies so that it becomes acceptable: But there is much to remind him that this is a concession that he cannot help but sometimes feel is extorted from him. Like a guest who is co-opted to do work around the house. He is always a guest. Even in his own body. How can he forget this? How can she resent his action when he, his body—the part of him from which he is as estranged as he is from her—is only an extension of her body that she uses to masturbate herself?

Sexual morality for men becomes a hypertrophic exercise of will. He must learn to transcend his body and let her have it or not have it as it pleases her. The only way out for him is to make himself master of his own slavery. There is nothing in the feminine experience to compare with this. When the subject of sex becomes feminized and the feminine standard of health becomes interchangeable with the human his self-contortion is systematically misunderstood and pathologized. He must concede the world in its entirety to her. He cannot really share it with her. And this felt imperative is unimaginable to her. This is what I mean by the tragedy of sex.

It is why I have written many times that the world has been populated by rapists. Post coitum triste.

Just in case I haven’t made it clear enough: in all this there is no hint of justification for rape. It is only that rape cannot begin to be understood without reference to its thoroughly metaphysical foundation, the freight it carries that distinguishes it from all other transgressions, even murder. Not even survival of the species is adequate justification. Hence, Weininger…

It should be needless to say—but perhaps isn’t—that there are other ways to interpret the very real chasm between feminine and masculine experiences of sex that may be less bleak if no less a strain on the common imagination. We will have more to say about this when we discuss D. H. Lawrence, Marguerite Duras and Johann Georg Hamann. But it would be a mistake to think the Weiningerian view expressed here and those of these writers are competing understandings. The possibility of transcending the bleakness presupposes its full appreciation.]

A problem inherent in date rape is that men often do not define forced sex as rape. … In… a report from a University of California psychologist, Neil Malamuth, men were asked if they would force sex on a woman if they knew they could get away with it. About 50 per cent said they would. Asked if they would rape a woman if they knew they could get away with it, about 15 per cent said they would. Yet, forcing sex “against their will” is the definition of rape.

[“Rape” is ripe with meaning for a woman. As much as unforced sex. It is the most personal thing that can happen to her. “Don’t take it personally,” a rapist says to his victim. Men do not take it personally because they are not sufficiently invested in their bodies. (They are not sufficiently invested in anything—here. Perhaps, tragically, no where else either but especially not here.)

The physical violation of men by other men is only metaphorically speaking termed “rape.” It is something else entirely. A forcibly penetrated man has been treated with disrespect. It is active abuse directed at one who might in other circumstances return it. But a woman is—for the duration of the act, at least—not counted as an object of respect in any circumstances. She may well be an object of love as a mother might be but not of respect or disrespect. If he can abstract from the contingency of sex he may count her as human, but a human in the relevant moral sense is also a sexless being. He cannot have sex with a human being. That is the core of his problem and of his morality. A woman may have his respect to the extent he is capable of seeing past her sex. But that has consequences that interfere with what a woman would consider a relation with any aspect of health. She sees being a woman as a species of being human, not as a fundamentally different moral category as it must appear for him.

The only unambiguously “healthy” sexual relation a woman may have is with another woman. For men, sex and health have little relation to each other.]

One-third of gang rapes on campuses are perpetrated by athletes; fraternities are blamed for the other two-thirds. Many men involved in a gang rape would probably not rape on a one-on-one basis.

[Exactly the same dynamic applies with killing, e.g., as in war. The group momentarily releases the individual from responsibility. The fact is most men are cowards taken individually. Equally so whether confronted with opportunities for heroism or ignominy. They take cover in company. It was against this that Weininger arrayed his quixoticism, why he obsessed so much on the need for the expression of genius in men and not women. Genius meant for him moral courage, that is, maximal fearlessness in the face of unstinting self- and cosmic awareness. When men join together, they relieve themselves of this burden of morality. If the collective they form is not rigorous in its discipline, watch out. This group dynamic is not the same for women.]

Gang rape, we are told, is about power and sex. When about sex it is about

boys joining together to prove their sexual prowess to one another. It has strong homosexual overtones, because in sharing the woman the men may be expressing their desire for each other.

[The ultimate instrumental use of woman: as psychic condom.]

When it is about power it is about

Spoiling the property of the enemy.

As in a case where a drug-dealer’s 19 year old girlfriend is abducted and repeatedly raped when the dealer himself cannot be found to collect from.

Throughout history women have been raped in front of their fathers or their husbands, the ultimate spoiling of another man’s property.

[Otto Weininger cites the ancient Jewish tradition. See the story of the Levite of Gibeah in Judges 19 and of Lot offering his daughters in Genesis 19:8. (There is nothing especially Jewish about this. A shallow reading of Weininger may leave the impression that it is. It can be found in other ancient scriptures. But we stand the best chance of understanding no less than distorting those traditions closest to us. Even as, like Weininger, we run the risk of being labeled self-haters.)]


On April 19, 1989 in New York Central Park, 30 teenage boys ganged raped and nearly murdered a 28 year-old investment banker.

She was struck on the side of the head with a lead pipe because it was ‘fun.’… As in other gang rapes, the young men involved in the case also came from middle-class families and, like other gang rapists, they admitted to no remorse.

Rape as opportunity crime:

When a sixteen-year-old Los Angeles girl was shopping at noon, two men with knives abducted her, held her captive for six days, and raped her repeatedly. She freed herself, flagged down a passing car with three men in it, and asked for help. They drove her to Rose Hill Park in East Los Angeles, where they raped her until she was rescued by two park rangers… [There is no record that the park rangers raped her. That may need mentioning.]

An Infrastructure of Abuse

Bret Easton Ellis’s best-selling novel of the early 1990s American Psycho is cited as an example of how even highly educated, successful men fantasize treating women:

In this novel a sated Wall Street yuppie becomes deranged and moonlights as a serial murderer. He rapes, murders, tortures, and dismembers women, and at one point tries to make a meatloaf from the parts of one of his victim’s body. He explodes breasts using jumper cables, inserts a starving rat into a vagina [stuffed with Brie], and at one point walks around his apartment naked, sexually connected to a severed head.


A domestic abuse expert, Ellen Pence, says, “It’s extremely rare that you read about a man who has beaten to death a woman while she’s living with him. It’s when she leaves that he kills.”

O. J. Simpson.


Great natural and social disasters stress men by robbing them of their “normal” control which results in victimization of women and children. After the October 1989 San Francisco earthquake, there was an increase in family violence reported.

After Hurricane Andrew in Florida, August 24, 1992, male violence flared against women. Machetes, knives, bats, and fists…

When military bases close and men feel economic insecurity, ditto.


Drug crime: “Who is causing all the drug crime?” Guess. [Illegal drugs go together with street crime. Legal ones (as in “Big Pharma”) with white collar crime. A crime for every class of men.]


As with arson, the drug industry has its tentacles deep into the ranks of law enforcement.


There is a vested interest in keeping abusable drugs illegal—not because of an interest in getting rid of drugs but because of the “huge infrastructure” that thrives on keeping them that way.


Although there are girl gangs almost all serious criminal gang behavior is male.


Not only is abstract crime a good career choice for educated white middle-class class men but run of the mill thievery is not a bad one either. [Note on race: the good news is that skin color is slowly becoming irrelevant. Wouldn’t this be par for the course in a society making progress? But the progress has more to do with natural processes such as miscegenation than with any social program of justice. One day people of all shades will be proportionately represented at every level of crime, we might be excused for hoping. Not so with people of all sexes. Many feminists and other progressives have sometimes drawn the parallel too closely between racism and sexism.]

Does crime pay? It seems so. In San Francisco in 1990, of the 10,618 residential and commercial burglaries, only 1,442 criminals were arrested. In other words, 87 percent were successful.

[No doubt, this tracks intelligence levels of men. It suggests that even the moderately intelligent male stands a good chance of not being caught.]


Spys: almost always male. [Of course, whether spying is strictly speaking illegal depends on who the spy is and where he spys. But it is always immoral. (As though morality has ever been more than an occasional accessory in espionage: a field where law and, per force, morality is suspended. Precisely, why it so fascinates.)]


Sexual abusers of children: almost always men. So rare among women that when it does happen, it is front page news. When men do it (except when they do it on an industrial scale), there will always be more interesting things to report on.


“There’s an underlying presupposition that a man has a ‘right’ to his wife and children,” says Lucy Berliner, director of research at Harborview Sexual Assault Center in Seattle, in Ms. Magazine. This idea comes down through history through early Judaic practices that gave fathers life and death power over their children.


Parental sexual abuse: “Allegations of such abuse fly in the face of ‘sacred family values’.” [A bit of an aside: Why are such values sacred? Precisely because every element of raising a child is abusive. Abuse means here violation of autonomy. Since every child is a slave to the wishes of its parents in every other aspect, why not sexual as well? We think that authority (that of mother and father) necessary and right. And, supposedly, one-sided control can be contained within certain bounds. Thus, the term “abuse” is artificially constrained to apply only to the violation of physiological and sexual integrity. Applying the idea is easiest this way. It becomes problematic to enlarge it to physical and psychological integrity as well. For then, the manipulation of environment and normative influence, nature- and God-given parental prerogatives, would be threatened. It is not considered “abuse,” for example, if I remove my child from a public school in order to home or private school her or him (or the reverse). It is usually not considered “abuse” to fit braces on a child’s teeth, or remove its tonsils or wisdom teeth or circumcise it—all seriously invasive. But sexual initiation is considered “abusive.” Because—why? Because we instinctively don’t trust ourselves to do it. The concept of “sacredness” is enlisted for making a distinction to cover up a complex of quasi-rational and irrational motivations that we haven’t the courage or confidence to unravel. It is a call made by a need for psychic efficiency. There is always a price to be paid for efficiency… Abuse begins just before conception.

Values are sacred because we draw a line among the outrages we are willing to commit. Never ask why the line is drawn there and not somewhere different…

Similar things could be said wherever there is talk of “atrocity,” “hate crime,” “genital mutilation,” “genocide,” and wherever there are appeals to notions such as “human rights.”]

Sex and Religion (Or “Black-collar” Crime)


In April of 1989 in Novato, California Jennifer Moore, 13, disappeared a few blocks from home on her way to a store to buy an ice cream cone. The community was aroused. Her mother begged on TV for her to come home if she had run away or the kidnapper to release her if there was one.

So many people helped—Jennifer’s school mates, teachers, neighbors, and strangers, including a deacon from the Bethel Baptist Church named Scott Williams.

Williams helped put up posters. He taught Sunday school at the church and was a mild-mannered, respected man in Novato.

Four days after her disappearance, Jennifer’s body was found in a ravine in a garbage bag. [By now, you may guess what is coming.]

…Williams confessed that he had lured Jennifer into the church library, raped her then strangled her and bludgeoned her on the head with a baseball bat…

After the sentencing Jennifer’s grandmother told the court, “To lose your only child or grandchild is to lose your future. For the rest of our lives we will be deprived of the opportunity to love Jennifer, to hug her, to enjoy her company on visits and trips, to watch her mature, learn, marry, and have her own children…. If there is a God, he is cruel and capricious and I want nothing to do with him and certainly nothing to do with any church. A God who permits a child to be raped and murdered in a church by a deacon exhibits a strange kind of irony.

“She was treated as garbage. Shoved in a garbage bag and dumped in a gully.”

[Sexual abuse, most often of boys, by Catholic clergy seems to have special shock value to judge from the news coverage it gets. If you think celibacy is something of a prerequisite for this sort of thing, think again… But it is true that Protestant ministers, usually married ones, show a marked preference for female victims.]

  I   |  II  |  III 

Posted by luno in philosophy and sex, rape, Criminality, female criminality, sex differences, male criminality (Saturday November 27, 2010 at 12:23 pm)

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