The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Monday, March 16, 2009


Thank Suzanne for the following link: Raping lesbians to "cure" them in South Africa. Beyond vile.


Understand that when I talk about stuff like this, I'm not trying to let the perpetrators off the hook. In fact, I would be happy to shoot the bastards in the head. But I always look at things in the context of "what the hell is going on, and how do we get to health?" From the obsessive perspective of balance, no, I don't blame this on "men" any more than I look at the fact that most of the art, science, and heroism has been done by men and think that there is something wrong with "women." position is that there is something far more insidious and subtle going on. Understand that about me going in.

So what do I look at when I try to understand something as hideous as the above events

1) "Core Transformation": every action is an attempt to come closer to the divine. OR: an attempt to unite with a loving force, or find a feeling of spiritual/loving connection.

2) The destruction wrought by colonialism, and post-colonial collapse.

3) The belief that our natural state is one of growth, self-discovery, and movement away from pain toward pleasure.


With individuals, when I try to understand who someone is, I look at the three major aspects of their lives: body, mind/career, relationship/spirituality. Taking the position that any digression from a path of growth and evolution is evidence of damage, and that any act of violence is actually an act of fear, I've been able to psychologically disarm muggers and work with prisoners in the maximum security block. If psychology is quantum sociology, then the same principles should apply to groups.

Viewed that way we have a culture yanked through thousands of years of technological development in hundreds of years, vast imprintation of negative self-imagery for generations, and tribal boundaries destroyed by lines drawn on maps. In other words, all of the processes that ordinarily take human beings slowly and (relatively) elegantly toward higher levels of social organization torn to hell. I remember being relieved when the Soviet Union fell apart, and violence erupted in former Soviet satellites. Why? Because I was SICK of going to cocktail parties and having white people (yes, mostly conservative) ask me what was wrong with blacks, why couldn't they stop killing each other in Africa, etc. etc. When white people started killing each other in similar ways in Europe, for some odd reason, they stopped asking me those questions. They got it. Oh...this was a HUMAN problem, not a "black" problem.


I've been distressed by the degree of homophobia in the black community in America, but I feel like I understand it. Consider the popularity of black men dressed as women, black men portrayed as sexless, black women sexually available to white men...all of the imbalance of the natural balance of male and female energy. This creates literal fear, which leads to anger and projection of personal damage onto others.

Black male fear that they ARE what their surrounding culture implies they are. (All humans do this, of course.) This leads to violence and self-destructive behavior (riots in communities where little of the property is owned by the rioters) on the social level, as well as violence in the home and the personal level. Sex substituted for love, "making money" for running an honest sustainable business.

ANY time I see behavior that could not be sustained over many generations, I know I'm seeing dysfunction, regardless of how much people scream that individuals have the freedom to do whatever they want. What I see in gay-bashing is terror that the "evil" urges most men feel within their own sexual natures is walking in representative form in the outside world. Destroy the "evil" and you are safe. You prove that you aren't one of them.

And men who attack and fear lesbians are, in my mind, men who are terribly insecure in themselves, in their sexuality and personhood. To think that a woman would be more attracted to another woman than to them is dangerous to an already fragile ego. In other words, when the world is out of control, when you don't know where you fit, when you are consumed with blind terror that you might be the non-entity that the outside world says you are...

You fall back on whatever "security" can be found in social norms. Now, this is a form of Conservatism, but I don't mean it in the political sense normally used. More like: "what has worked? What did my grandfathers say and do?" There is security there...but also hideous abuse.

The men who do these things are, in my mind, too damaged to be re-programmed. Personally, I'd rather they die, and I'd spend my time raising the next generation in a healthier fashion. They have reached the point of the "Internal chorus" singing in their heads telling them what to do and approving of violent actions. There is no known mode of social rehabilitation.

Do I think that a technique like "Core Transformation" could help them? Sure, but I remember Jerry Pournelle did a qualitative analysis of different therapy techniques when he was in his psychology doctorate program. And the result he got, that I agree with completely, is that there IS NO DIFFERENCE in success rates. The difference is in the personal health of the therapist. In other words, if the therapist has resolved the issues, he or she can help the client resolve them. To put it yet another way, you have to want to grow up to be the therapist, in a manner of speaking.

How many human beings are evolved enough to look at a man who has raped and/or murdered for the sake of cultural honor and personal fear, and see the love inside them? See what that little boy could have been, if raised by a loving mother and father and community and shown the doorway to excellence and joy, and made to believe that he was one with the force that created the universe? Taught to respect and love all of creation? I would say that most therapists suffer from the Optometrist Syndrome: Most Optometrists wear glasses. Most therapists seem to go into the field to heal themselves. In other words, they start out being MORE screwed up than average. Then they get lost in a maze of competing intellectual theories about how it all fits together. Waking up your kundalini backwards, anyone?

Crap. So what is to be done? I would say educate the women of the world. Catch the rogue males and isolate or, frankly, exterminate them if necessary. Train little boys with both love and discipline to channel that critical destructive energy into protective and creative channels. Train little girls to respect themselves as keepers of the keys of civilization.

And acknowledge that we can't help everyone, that some problems take generations to work out. I hate watching it happen, but this shit has been going on since the beginning of our species, and we don't seem to be killing ourselves off. I believe that there is less rape and child abuse than there has been in the past--but we HEAR about it far more. It turns our stomach, and so it should. We must never, ever be satisfied with the current situation.

And more than anything else, we must root out the pain and fear and anger within ourselves, become as strong and successful as we can be as individuals, because individuals make societies, and societies can change the world.


Anonymous said...

Not every culture is as tolerant or as egalitarian as ours, and there are ugly sides to all cultures. surfing a few blogs over to Blackgrave's blog we find mention of "rape gang" a lovely Japanese video game available for import... i believe there are a few Islamic states that stone homosexuals along with other groups that violate social norms... A few years back i read about Hindus burning a bus load of Muslims in a particularly hideous incident.. or how about the violence done against the untouchable "caste" over there? Yes the Attempted "curing " of lesbians is horrible but unfortunately simply the lip of one hell of an abyss. Langdon

Anonymous said...

I hope Steve is right and that we can progress as a people and as a race. it seems to often we regress rather than move forward

Joseph Lewis said...

I think it's an excellent point to remember that while we do hear about tragedies more often (and in more graphic detail), they are actually happening less frequently than in the past. Scholars say we are now living in the most peaceful era in human history, as hard as that is to believe. So there is much reason for hope and optimism!

Marty S said...

The same sort of thing is going on right here, right now. Like the distaste for homosexuals that triggered the rapes in South Africa,the current distaste for those in the financial world is leading to a proposal to pass a tax law specifically aimed at those who received bonuses at AIG. This strikes at our constitutional liberties worse than anything the Bush administration did. The power to tax is indeed the power to destroy. What's next? If someone like OJ Simpson is found not guilty by a jury of his peers do we tax all his income and wealth away because we believe the jury gave the wrong verdict. If the government wants to take AIG to court claiming that the distribution was some sort of violation of agreement to take the bailout money that's fine, but using the current anger to abrogate the constitution is not.

Steven Barnes said...

If we were steadily getting worse, I fail to see how civilization would ever have been created: it demands a fantastic amount of cooperation to build a society of any number. Most people are good and decent. Monstrosity is remarkable.

Steven Barnes said...

I wouldn't want a law about AIG. Making demands related to receiving funds is another thing (if you take our money, you follow our rules). I do think that when you have a population of people losing their homes, to have executives SEEMING to get bonuses to reward them for causing the problem is inviting revolution, literally. I don't know what you do about that, but I think it would be foolish not to admit the possibility, and do what you can to promote at least the appearance of fair play.

Marty S said...

Steve: Part of the problem is the continued propaganda that the people who received these so called bonuses, and the people who caused the problem are one and the same. Decisions like the ones that caused these problems are made by a few top executives. The vast majority of the $165,000,000 in bonuses being talked about went to over 6000 employees who were below the decision level and just did the job they were hired to do under the pay contract they were promised.

Josh Jasper said...

Talking Points Memo has a rundown of AIG related news

And the NY Times also has news from the investigations:

The attorney general provided some new details on Tuesday about some of the $165 million in bonuses that A.I.G. paid out last week in a letter sent to Representative Barney Frank, the chairman of the House Committee on Financial Services.

“A.I.G. made more than 73 millionaires in the unit which lost so much money that it brought the firm to its knees, forcing a taxpayer bailout,” Mr. Cuomo wrote in the letter. “Something is deeply wrong with this outcome.”

Mr. Cuomo did not name the bonus recipients, but the numbers are eye-popping, given A.I.G.’s fragile state. The highest bonus was $6.4 million, and six other employees received more than $4 million, according to Mr. Cuomo. Fifteen other people received bonuses of more than $2 million, and 51 people received bonuses between $1 million and $2 million, Mr. Cuomo said. Eleven of those who received “retention” bonuses of $1 million or more are no longer working at A.I.G., including one who received
- NY Times

So yes, plenty of that money did go to the same division that caused the problem, including several million intended to "retain" people who quit or were let go anyway.

The government owns 80% of AIG. You'd think that with all of that bailing out, some of it would buy us the right to say "no bonuses this year, or you don't get bailed out".

Mike Ralls said...

Much of the problems of modern day Africa are the result of many parts of it still being essentially tribal in nature. One of the biggest differences between tribal societies and modern ones is the much higher level of violence in tribal societies. To put things in perspective, a German or Russian born in 1898, someone old enough to fight in the first world war and young enough to get dragooned into fighting in the second, who went through all the horrors of the Communists and Nazis, still had a lesser chance of dying by violence than the average hunter gather throughout history.*

*According to our best approximations by examining the fossil record and seeing how many of the samples we have died by violence.

Marty S said...

Josh: Here's a link to an article breaking down the current 165 million bonuses being paid this month. I strongly suspect that the 73 millionaires goes back to older bonuses, since your citation says they include people who don't even currently work there. In any case, whether the individuals who got the bonuses deserve them or not, taxing them away would clearly be an abuse of power and set a terrible precedent. As bad or worse than congress interfering in the Florida coma case.

Marty S said...

Whoops forgot to paste the link.

Josh Jasper said...

Here's the guy who got fired from the financial products unit *because* he created the default credit swap nightmare, and then re-hired as a million dollar a month consultant, and then re-fired

It also includes documentation on Gaither telling AIG *not* to give the bonuses, and AIG claiming that if they didn't this would trigger some sort of catastrophic market failure that would cost billions.

AIG's management wrote in a financial doomsday device to make sure millionaires got bonuses if they destroyed the world economy.

At this point, I'm in favor of simply rounding them up, kicking them out of the human race.

Marty S said...

Josh: read your own article AIG was sued by the guy they didn't pay and then had to settle and give him some sort of payout. Again, your article gives dates that are five years old and aren't relevant to who is getting the current bonuses. To go further. I was what the labor laws defines as a professional employee. That is I was paid an annual salary, not an hourly rate. This meant I was not paid overtime. When I worked fifty hours in a week I received the same paycheck as when I worked forty hours. Most of the people who are getting these so called bonuses are just getting salary by a different name.Salery that they earned by doing their job. They have homes,cars and credit card debit and are counting on this money to pay those bills. Be mad as you want at the top executives who made the bad decisions, but don't take it out on worker bees, who in this industry are paid a salary by a different name.

Mark Jones said...

Whether the AIG executives deserve their bonuses is irrelevant. They're legally entitled to them. End of story. If Congress wanted to prevent them, I guess maybe Congress should have spent a little more time thinking before rushing to pass the porkulus bill. Besides which, banking is one of the most heavily regulated businesses we have--short of evidence of outright fraud, AIG operated within the regulatory environment that CONGRESS (specifically Barney Frank and others now pretending to moral outrage over this debacle) created. Whipping up a frenzy over the AIG bonuses is an attempt to deflect the blame--a classic example of the "Let's you and him fight!" technique.

The AIG bonuses also amount to a miniscule proportion of the money AIG received, a much lesser proportion than the earmarks Congress insisted upon as a "tiny" addition to the stimulus bill. So I really don't care about the bonuses; I want to see Congress drink a big glass of shut the fuck up.

If we're going to vote anyone off the island, I say we start with Congress.

Marty S said...

Mark: you got it right. All the congresspeople shouting outrage about AIG and the bonuses should start with giving back the campaign contributions these same congresspeople took from AIG.