SlutWalk and the gnostic temptation

Remember SlutWalk? From the Wikipedia page:

Participants protest against explaining or excusing rape by referring to any aspect of a woman’s appearance.[3] The rallies began when Constable Michael Sanguinetti, a Toronto Police officer, suggested that to remain safe, “women should avoid dressing like sluts.”

It’s one of the peculiarities of the modern condition that advice of this sort is taken as an exercise in moral blame-assignment rather than simple, prudential wisdom. “X is a bad idea so don’t do it or Y might happen,” where, in this case, X = “Getting ruinously drunk in a sexually-charged environment surrounded by people you don’t know, then walking home alone through a bad part of town at 2 AM on a Saturday” but could just as well mean lots of other things, means just what it says and nothing more. And if Y happens, the fact that you’re not morally culpable for Y doesn’t mean X wasn’t, therefore, a bad idea.

Why, then, the leftist/feminist griping that this constitutes “blaming the victim”? Here’s a useful graphic of the typical SlutWalker demographic that gives us some insight into what’s going on in their heads:


Now, this is interesting. Even if modernity did not drown us in warnings about the prevalence and evils of rape, do they really think grown men need to be told not to rape? That rapists will actually respond to stern talking-tos from the authorities, or be swayed by appeals to women’s rights?

I said a moment ago that advice of the “don’t dress sluttily and walk alone through bad parts of town” sort is prudential. Let’s rephrase it a little: “Given that the world is a dangerous place containing rapists and other sorts of deranged criminals, it is imprudent to dress like a slut, walk alone through bad parts of town, etc.” I don’t think the lady above necessarily disagrees with the “it is imprudent” bit, given that it logically follows from the given. I think she disagrees with the “given” bit. That is, she objects on principle to the idea that the world in which we live is necessarily fallen, that we must accept that the world is a dangerous place inhabited by dangerous people. Since she refuses to take the predicate as a given, she refuses to accept the consequent which logically derives from it. Hence she experiences the consequent as unjust, as men telling her what to do because it’s easier than the work of making the world a safer, better, less fallen place. And hence she sincerely seems to think that rape would disappear if only Playboy (or whoever) would publish an article telling men how not to rape people.

So it doesn’t matter to her if there is a logical connection between certain behaviors and certain outcomes (though she probably denies that there is). If there is such a connection, it is itself unjust, and she refuses to accept simple truths about reality that are, to her mind, unjust.

That is the gnostic temptation in a nutshell: the refusal to accept the world as it is, on the grounds that its defects can be repaired through human action motivated by spontaneous insight into the true nature of reality. In saner times, we would’ve called this denial of reality what it is: psychotic.

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26 thoughts on “SlutWalk and the gnostic temptation

  1. Well it is certainly part of the picture, but there is a simpler explanation: in the 20th century all sorts of groups got all sorts of things they wanted simply by going out on the streets and being really noisy about it. Apparently it works. Although it is not exactly clear what they want, tougher sentencing of rapists or something like that, they will probably get it sooner or later. Frankly our age is a bit like a really bad parent who buys his child an expensive toy because he is tired that child keeps wailing really loudly about it.

    • “Although it is not exactly clear what they want”

      Today’s women do not know what they want. When they tell us what they want you know that is not what they want. So this is not about rape.

    • Mediocre looking women like to compete with better looking women for alphas by slutting it up more. It’s the sexual market equivalent of competing on price instead of quality. However, being a slut lowers her long term mate value. So by raising the status of sluts she hopes to raise her own status and thus mate prospects.

  2. And there’s my complementary explanation, which I never get tired of repeating: these women want to attack their community’s moral standards against female promiscuity (after all, they’re explicitly marching as fornicators, not as immodest women), but even though this is clearly an aggressive act, they want to be able to present themselves as victims. Slut walking isn’t intended to intimidate rapists; it’s meant to intimidate patriarchal Christians like us.

  3. Slut walking isn’t intended to intimidate rapists; it’s meant to intimidate patriarchal Christians like us.

    Indeed.

    All this, even though stranger rape (the kind of crime that most people think of when people say “rape”) is near all-time lows in Western nations (probably due in part to the ubiquity and low cost of porn). Blame the eeevil patriarchy for rape, even though it is only in patriarchal cultures where it is largely eliminated. The slut walk phenomenon really cannot be seen as anything more than a subset of women refusing to live by any rules that constrain them whilst simultaneously refusing to accept any consequences for that refusal. My six-year-old has a better grasp on reality than that.

  4. Haven’t you heard? Rape isn’t about sex, it’s about power.

    I assume they’re also objecting to the use of the word “slut” by using it as a self-description. The “own the insult” tactic.

    • Yup, as blacks like to call each other nigger. Own the insult, revel in it in-group, and turn viciously on anyone out-group who dares use it.

  5. Please, you’re being unfair to gnostics. They understood that the world is innately fallen, always full of death, rape, et al until Christ does something about it. Their error was believing Yahweh is a demiurge and not Christ’s Father, so “something” would be to pluck our spirits out the worthless world he created.

    These people clearly get their heresy from Rousseau, not Marcion.

  6. But the gnostics didn’t believe the world was fallen. They believed it was ab initio the corrupt creation of a sinful creator god, either YHWH or Sophia (or any of a hundred other names). There’s a big difference between a world that is essentially good but contingently fallen, such as Christians believe ours to be, and a world that is essentially evil. Christians love the world, they just love YHWH more; and they rely on YHWH to restore the world to propriety at the eschaton. Gnostics hate the world. Old fashioned gnostics dealt with that hatred by trying to depart from the world altogether. New fashioned gnostics such as the slutwalkers deal with it by trying to fix the world. Both sorts blaspheme against YHWH, and in the final analysis both utterly reject the world as they find it, in favor of some ideal. Both sorts of gnostic are therefore also nihilists – although, being generally atheist, the modern sort are more thoroughly nihilist than the ancient sort, who at least believed in God the Father.

    A quibble: YHWH is not the Father, but the Son. No one has seen the Father but the Son; yet face to face interaction between humans and God happens a lot in the OT. So those interactions must not have been with the Father, but the Son.

    But this really is just a quibble, because everything that is in the Son is in the Father, and vice versa; and in ancient Israel there was a deal of elision between El, the Father, and YHWH, his only begotten Son and the King of the Sons of God – the angels, or gods.

    • “Gnostics hate the world. Old fashioned gnostics dealt with that hatred by trying to depart from the world altogether. New fashioned gnostics such as the slutwalkers deal with it by trying to fix the world. Both sorts blaspheme against YHWH, and in the final analysis both utterly reject the world as they find it, in favor of some ideal.”

      Ah, all right. I see what you mean now.

      “A quibble: YHWH is not the Father, but the Son. No one has seen the Father but the Son; yet face to face interaction between humans and God happens a lot in the OT. So those interactions must not have been with the Father, but the Son.”

      That’s a fascinating point to ruminate on. Indeed God frequently appears as a man in Genesis, and the Fathers tended to explain this as Him appearing as Jesus.

    • It *is* an amazing thing to think about, no? I have been pondering this very thing for a couple weeks now, and considering a blog post about it. Jesus is YWHW and the demiurge and the Torah (so that his Incarnation is the fulfillment and completion of the Law) and the Stoic Logos – which the Jesuits translated into Mandarin as “Tao,” the Way. Amazing.

  7. “Liberalism” asserts an interesting mirror-image moral parallel —

    On the one hand, telling women a simple main truth — that certain voluntary behaviors, which are in themselves always unwise and frequently are even immoral (*), dramatically increase one’s odds of being victimized — is “blaming the victim”.

    (*) which is to say, the behaviors are at odds with reality

    On the other hand, exercizing one’s God-given right to speak the truth about Mohammed or about Islam is so “provocative” that one is morally culpable for the rioting and/or murder in which other people, half-way around the world, engage in response.

  8. A few points:
    Firstly, all Gnostics are not anti-nomians: according to the Catholic Encyclopedia entry on it(http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/06592a.htm) there are four groups, of which the Anti-Nomian stance is only one. (Anti-Nomians of course fall into two reactionary camps which use opposing methods of over coming the oppressive law: exuberance or asceticism). Though I am in agreement with you that the philosophy that breeds the Anti-Nomian attitude is reactionary, more accurately it is womanly and juvenile: firstly it waits for someone else to step forth and set some principles, and secondly it waits for someone else to determin what is good, and then stands in direct contradistinction to it. It’s like a child being told not to eat that jar of cookies because it will make them sick, and the child does the exact opposite and suffers the consequences.

    Secondly, You say that Gnostics consider the world to be a fallen place that can be improved somehow. As far as I’m aware, that’s not the case, but rather the opposite: that they believe in salvation by gaining divine knowledge (hence the name ‘gnostics’ from the root gnosis which means to know), which is an entirely personal matter, and that the world, because it is fallen and ruled over by the Demiurge (sometimes viewed as Yahweh), cannot be redeemed. That view seems congruent with mainline Christian doctrine as the world as fallen (we got kicked out of Eden for sinning). As is evidenced by the monastic types who tend towards asceticism (which could be viewed as a kind of anti-nomian attitude, ‘if’ the monks are denying rather than affirming). Also, in the NT, both Christ and the Apostle Paul advocated against concieving children, saying that you should only marry if the urge is too strong (thus avoiding the sin of temptation), which supports the view of the world as somehow fallen (otherwise he would be advocating OT doctrine ‘go forth and multiply’).

    (Though personally I believe the world itself is not ‘bad’ because God cannot create ‘bad’. He created/creates two things: wilfullness/being (that which is and wants to be), and freedom (which being can move into), both of which are ‘good’. And thus this world, even with it’s seeming badness, cannot be ‘bad’ because it was born out of freedom, and continues to exist/be and is therefore good).

    Thirdly, (I’m not at all certain of this I just recall reading it on Vox Days blog a while back) but don’t Christians believe that the Devil/Satan is ruling the world as Rex Mundi? If so, then that view is congruent with Gnostics who believe in a malevolent being that rules the world (the Demiurge, who can be compared to Old Testament Yahweh).

  9. From what I have seen of feminist argumentation, they really don’t seem to believe there is a connection between promiscuous dress and rape. They point out, as does Steve above, that most rape in contemporary liberal societies is not stranger rape. They also point to examples of stranger rape victims who were not dressed promiscuously as ‘proof’ that promiscuous dress and rape victimhood have nothing to do with one another whatsoever. The rape-is-about-power-not-sex meme is a part of this too: they move from the truth that sexual attraction alone is not enough to explain why a rapist rapes (since most men have no issue refraining from raping attractive women and many rape victims are not especially attractive) to a complete denial that there is any connection between the two. Some even go further than this– witness the attempts of some feminists (e.g. http://feministing.com/2012/08/28/rape-is-not-sex/ ) to declare that non-consensual sex is in fact actually not-sex-at-all, so as to further obscure the connection between slutty (sexual) behavior and the potential for attracting the attention of a (sexual) predator.

    I suspect that Bonald is right: the real targets of these protests are those who promote traditional gender roles and a stigma against sluttiness. They have no illusion that rapists will stop raping if feminists hand out some pamphlets and hold up some signs telling them not to do so, as though it hadn’t occured to the rapists that rape is wrong (or, in the case of some self-deceiving rapists, that action they commited was in fact a rape rather than a consensual sexual encounter). They believe that one of the main causes of rape (viewed at a large scale sociological phenomenon rather than an action chosen by an individual rapist) is the fact that traditional sexual mores and beliefs have yet to be extinguished entirely– anyone who promotes the idea of essential differences between men and women, let alone differences that might justify the sort inequality of power seen in pre-Enlightenment societies, is thought to be indirectly lending support to rapists by reinforcing the so-called ‘rape culture.’ The thinking seems to be that since rape is ‘really’ about giving men illegitimate power over women, any attempt to limit the sexual behavior in which women are permitted to engage is tantamount to rape.

    Many rapists, upon being caught, rationalize their crimes by saying that their victims were sluts and were thus ‘asking for it’. Liberal feminists who already consider sluttiness to be a virtuous sign of female empowerment take this as proof that the mere articulation of objections to sluttiness in any context only serves to help rapists. Thus traditional beliefs about sexuality are thought to be so dangerous that no one must be permitted to even publicly express support for them. This is why feminists put such an emphasis on making sure their enemies do not get a chance to even express their views before getting shouted down. It also explains the odd ‘misunderstanding’ that so many feminists seem to have about whether noting the connection between provocative dress and rape counts as victim blaming– they know damn well what their opponents are getting at, but by pretending not to understand they can win more debates in the public sphere.

  10. Pingback: Father Knows Best: Act of God Edition « Patriactionary

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