Got that coffee off your monitor? Yeah, I thought it was a pretty cool title. You’re angry..?
For some time now I’ve been promising to write with more f-bombs – there’s been fair warning. So quit whining and let’s get on to the shagging.
Back in 1968, American ecologist Garrett Hardin, in the pages of Science, famously minted the concept of ‘the tragedy of the commons’, wherein individuals acting out of self-interest, exploiting a shared, finite resource, could over time either deplete it, or at least make it less accessible to other interest holders. While I’m not adapting Hardin’s language of ‘exploitation’ in regards to the resource in question (in this case ‘the fuckings’), and while I don’t mean to infer that certain privates are public (indeed, Hardin, in a special issue of The Ecologist in 1992, ceded that ‘commons’ was a misnomer ), I think the principle is worth adapting, albeit just a little facetiously.
This is the tragedy of the fuckings; there are only so many people available to fuck with, only so many of these with the ideal/desired interlocking parts, only so many of these who are mutually willing, and only so many again with an attitude one may find congenial. In the market, when people hook up in closed relationships, if you’re not one of the fuckees, chances are you’ve just become ever so slightly less likely to find a good fuck-buddy. Boo hoo.
Not for the first time I’ll say this: sex isn’t part of the commons (‘commons’ was a misnomer). You’re not entitled to a sexual partner. You’ll never be entitled. Unless donated for posterity or some such, that nicely mowed strip of pubic hair isn’t a public nature strip. Unless invited, stay off the lawn (and even still, watch out for the crustaceans from the pond).
The tragedy comes in, not from a loss of entitlement, nor even from the minimal loss of probability that you’ll be happily laid. No, the tragedy comes from all the noise people make, explicitly or implicitly on account of the difficulties of finding a fuck; this whirlpool of melodrama, and all the bad fucking movies it flings out*.
This noise, as if there were a loss of entitlement, or a significant loss off probability for copulatory happiness. (The odds were looking stark-to-nothing from the beginning, Spencer, not that you were owed anything).
Yes, this post is in some sense a response to the effusive silliness that’s erupted over recent months, generally speaking from the sticky, salty keyboards of the 101st Internet Virginal Nerd-Force. With the exception of one post in particular, the attitude of which I think can be generalised, I’m not intending to have a go specifically at anyone, for any particular thing.
(That being said, I do have strong opinions about various things that have been brought up in the last few months – ‘privilege’ as a concept, dismissing experiences, and group epithets – I intend to bring these up at a later juncture, without ‘going after’ anyone in particular then, either).
So you have all these erotically atomised singles out there, sick of tenderising the turgid t-bone, or surfing the slippery cleft (or whatever it is they have to do to ape the touch of another human being), watching all the happy fuckers go by smiling a ‘got mine’. Facetiousness aside, it really is peculiar, when you consider what the human population is, and the fact that such a small proportion of this population is born of artificially assisted means, that people are alleged to have trouble in finding a fuck.
Here’s one for SETI; send a message into space saying ‘Earth; population almost seven billion; needs more aphrodisiacs’. What would Mars think?
People marginalised from the ecology of consensual sex, it seems, if they aren’t content to just moan about it, crying into their Tim Tams and Häagen-Dazs, are going to try (often impotently) to control the ecosystem through politics, brutishness, and supererogated ritual. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not condemning commitment between lovers, but ‘you can’t interlock juicy bits until the virgin in a frock blesses your union’, seems more than just a little weird.
What would Mars think? It’s no less weird than the image of Joseph Ratzinger balancing tip-toed on bedpost, waving a checkered flag as his man in the trench make the final charge.
(I guess guys with endurance problems now have something other than roadkill to visualise in their attempts to thwart seminal urgency).
And it’s about control. So much of the history of humanity is the controlling of fuckers, sometimes by non-fuckers, most often by men. It’s a bit like kin-selection gone wrong, where ‘kin’ have been displaced by pallid, sweaty-palmed ghouls, looking to breed better incubators for their memes.
A thousand and one of these sweaty palms now extend chubby, dirty fingers to tak-tak-tak away at keyboards, furiously posting sexual missives to forums, blogs and Twitter**. Which I guess, if you don’t have limestone buildings and a nice crown with which to impart authority, are alternatives. Again, it’s mostly men, and it’s mostly impotent (it possibly could impact your sex life if you had it all aimed at you – there’s a thought).
Most of the people bumping uglies don’t give a fuck (hah!) about the Elevator Liberation Front, or Elevator Guy’s Facebook page, but it’s still a bit uncomfortable to be situated in a community where this kind of adolescent, faux-masculine posturing, is at large. That, and simultaneously being expected not to strangle annoying people.
(You don’t know about ‘ElevatorGate’? Oh, lucky you.)
Over the past few months I speak of, while I’ve been largely absent from online discussion and debate, there’s been a flare-up of angry-women-hating-nerds amongst freethinking circles***. I don’t pretend to know if this is more or less prevalent amongst freethinkers than in other groups (and spare me anecdote to the contrary, thanks – anecdote does not refute the null hypothesis), nor can I qualify the problematic nature of all this for free-thinkers with anything remotely approaching the desired precision. I just know that this particular flare up has had the effect of annoying me considerably – so I’m getting snarky about it.
Everyone seems to have their thread of choice upon which they base their ‘ElevatorGate’-based gripes; the specifics being varied from example to example; the severity of any given problem meeting varied responses. There are of course, various points of disagreement I could make with various interlocutors, but it’s the way the tragedy of the fuckings pans out in this scenario that’s my point, this time.
There’s a particular post I’ve kept in mind, having had my attention drawn to it some time back. I won’t dignify it, or its indignant author, with a link, the details being sadly believable enough as it is, and the issues generalisable. But if you’re inclined to wade through bile, enough information will follow for you to be able to form your own search strings and locate the article yourself.
Recently, I’ve read a number of hyperbolic remarks, to varying degrees claiming that PZ Myers et al., have been engaging in some kind of ideological purge, using denunciations, exclusions and so on. While I don’t agree in regards to PZ at least, I can notionally acknowledge that some of these concerns seem defensible. However, the post I’ve kept in mind really outdoes all of this, setting a new standard; platinum for paranoia. Sadly, the source is Australian.
The thrust of the paranoid article goes like this…
Once upon a time, there was this trial called The Stanford Prison Experiment. A prison environment was simulated at Stanford University, where it was desired to analyse effects upon prison guards leading to conflict with prisoners. Eventually, assuming an authoritarian posture, the ‘prison guards’ went on to torture ‘prisoners’, many ‘prisoners’ becoming acquiescent, selling-out their more defiant peers in return for clemency, while the lead researcher, Prof. Philip Zimbardo, unwittingly began to assume the identity of an authoritarian prison ‘superintendent’.
The experiment was conducted with none of the participants having had criminal records, yet produced a dynamic where ordinary people assumed extraordinary roles. The experiment was brought prematurely to a halt after only six days (of an intended two weeks), due to the degree of psychological damage being wrought.
What on Earth (aka ‘Planet Fuck’ by our Martian neighbours) has this got to do with anything we’re talking about?
Without going into too much detail, the privations of The Stanford Prison Experiment are allegedly being repeated by those who criticise the various personal attacks recently made against feminist/atheist/skeptic Rebecca Watson. Specifically, the charge is being made that those criticising the attacks are acting out of ‘prison guard’ authoritarianism.
(These attacks, incidentally, coincide with the delivery of rape threats, and rape-wishing. Not that all of the people, making all of the attacks, are implicated in these more disturbing permutations, there’s still a lot that’s worthy of criticism).
This was all sparked off because Watson mildly criticised a guy for hitting on her in an elevator during the small hours of the morning, at a convention where she had only just given a talk in which she explicitly expressed the view that she doesn’t like being hit on at conventions. That, and her taking a (somewhat puerile, cod-critical-theory-laden) swipe at Richard Dawkins after he stuck his foot in his mouth by being dismissive of the elevator experience (hence ‘ElevatorGate’).
(I’m not going to comment on the hot topic of the ethics of Watson’s criticism of a student during a recent CFI conference at this juncture – while not beyond consideration on its own merits, I think this is largely a red-herring in as far as ‘ElevatorGate’ is concerned).
Still not following me? Well, either you’ve avoided a lot of acrimony in these past few months, or you’re sane, or something… I’ll explain further.
Allegedly Myers et al. are the ‘prison guards’, and Watson, in leading the crackdown on The Oppressed Men and Their Allies, is the sadistic ‘superintendent’. Cowardly men like myself are acquiescent ‘prisoners’, caving in to the supposed feminist authoritarianism of the ‘prison guards’. While ‘prisoners’ like the author of the article in question, are heroes revolting against the supposed gynarchical prison, presumably to take back the sexual commons, or to free up time to go back to wanking over cartoon women in World of Warcraft.
Really, it’s the kind of self-aggrandizing, sexual paranoia you’d expect of a thirty-something virgin with unfettered access to the full mind-altering potential of David Mabus’ personal stash. Schlongdinistas of the Internet unite, you have nothing to lose but what remains of your dignity!
(Did I also mention that the author, on the basis of this spat, has gone on to label Myers et al., as fascists?)
Yes. Being criticised, or disagreed with by feminists on the Internet, is just like being tortured in a prison experiment. Except the Stanford Prison Experiment was a simulated prison environment with cells, and uniforms, and batons and little buckets to shit in, while discussion on the Internet is something you can turn off with a button and walk away from at a whim.
(And Phil Plait couldn’t torture a cream puff if he tried.)
Okay. I give up. They’re not the same at all. Give me a break – I’ve just been inside the mind of an obviously very frustrated teen-middle-ager.
It’s the stupidest way of responding to the sexual marketplace, really – hyperbolically assuming the role of an oppressed, yet bold revolutionary of gender relations. Nobody wants to fuck that. It’s creepy.
And so the tragedy repeats itself. The ideation towards control begets more loneliness, and the loneliness begets more ideation; the discourse getting more bitter and spiteful with each cycle.
Of course, I’m possibly not helping. I’ve been rather tongue-in-cheek with my use of Hardin, and my aping of revolutionary rhetoric, with semi-satirical intent. Such is the character of the self-pity this discussion seems to elicit from the sexually frustrated; I guess I can’t deal with this kind of thing directly, and in all seriousness, at the same time.
I’ll say this to the lonely nerds out there, though, in all seriousness; your not getting laid is not in any way a problem.
What it is, is a symptom of your other problems. Don’t even try to solve the issue of getting laid – that’ll just make things worse, or at best lead to miserable sex. Just sort your shit out and the rest will be more likely follow. Opportunities to hook-up present themselves regularly, it’s just that your lifestyle has been sabotaging these opportunities, one way or another.
This is ‘Planet Fuck’ after all.
* Why is it that if it’s harder statistically for GLBT couples to find their soul mates, we wind up with so many straight movies about how hard it is to be out of love? Privilege, no?
** The odd number is on account of the fapping.
*** I don’t mean just anyone who happens to disagree with Rebecca Watson, on one point or another, or those holding sincere concerns about the ethics of the way she operates. Not that I agree with all of these concerns, I just don’t automatically equate them with misogyny, okay? Okay! (And while a couple of ex-acquaintances I won’t name have recently pissed me off by being too friendly towards misogyny, I don’t automatically assume people are enablers or tacit supporters just for disagreeing, either).