Saturday, 1 April 2017

A world of difference in a description. Which one is sane?

On a packed tube train a female commuter is subjected to an opportunistic sexual assault by having her backside felt. Such is the crush that she is unable to turn to see who her aggressor is but she senses it was a male from the size of the hand, the nature of the assault and the fact that those in her part of the carriage are predominantly male. She is a resilient woman and, so, while upset by the unwelcome encounter, she is able to continue with her day as she leaves the train.

This assault can be and is looked upon in two different ways.

1) This was one of many instances of aggression towards and subjugation of women by the male hegemony known as the patriarchy. It seeks to subjugate women to male rule in many ways but, here, by the peculiar vulnerability of the sexual relation. Things were once worse and progress has been made in overthrowing the patriarchy but there is still a long way to go. For this reason there is an ongoing struggle which should continue to be carried on in order that the day when this kind of patriarchal aggression finally ceases and we move into a new moral dispensation arrives. In this new dispensation the relation of the male to the female will have been re-ordered. Males will be able to perfectly govern their impulses to the eternal benefit of females. Such egregious behaviour will have been eradicated in the onward march of moral progress just as science eradicated polio and leprosy for, in fact, moral advance is no different from technological advance. Indeed, one could go further and say that the shocking discovery, on the tube train, that a kind of moral singularity of the sort which we all have a right to expect had not yet been reached was an occasion for consternation and indignation. In this ongoing battle education is often evoked as an important means of bringing about a new age of enlightenment where this kind of thing never occurs. More and more education will eventually bring about the long sought for aim. This is a story of a journey from A to B and B is a real destination. Should anyone demur from this account they will make themselves obstacles to future enlightenment. They will be ‘part of the problem instead of part of the solution.’ Morality is, thus seen as a choice between two mutually exclusive stances with regard to the idea of progress.

2) The perpetrator of this action did a bad thing. He was sexually tempted and gave in to his impulses with no reference to the fact that he was carrying out an unwelcome form of aggression towards another human, to her consent or to any displeasure she might take in being so impersonally treated. He did it because he could. He should not have done it. What he did was morally wrong and indicates that he made a bad choice for which he would deserve punishment were he apprehended. In doing this he was acting on an impulse and demonstrating the poor self-control he has in terms of being able to govern his in-built instincts. This kind of thing took place in biblical times, in medieval times, and in every century since. Such incidents are documented in literature. It is hardly surprising that such things occur as some people are morally weaker and more selfish than others. It is not evidence of a patriarchal conspiracy, indeed, any thought of subjugation or awareness of such things was probably far from the mind of the perpetrator who was concentrating largely on his own selfish pleasure. One could argue that the nature of the offence was not entirely relevant as the same man could have given in to an impulse to steal someone’s money or phone on the same train if he had a moral weakness in that direction also. This offence occurred because the sexual relation of the male to the female human does place such crude temptation in the way of males and such opportunities. They are tempted to circumvent the usual routes that proper courtship, one that shows proper respect to the persons involved, takes. This problem will never vanish from the earth. It will reoccur tomorrow and the need, whether fulfilled or not, for such actions to be punished will always obtain. There will never be a time in the future when such things do not occur. No ‘correction’ of maleness or of the male race viewed as a whole will ever eradicate it. Nor will petty theft ever be eradicated. These are sins or crimes that will always spring out of the nature of how things are disposed in a human condition on which we seem to have been little consulted. In terms of education youths should be taught that such things are immoral but such educational interventions will never bring about an age where they are completely absent and will need to be regularly renewed for centuries to come as part of a proper education.

Which of these accounts is sane?

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