A sick society

I was one of five bloggers who were challenged by Lammelårtanker. She asked 10 questions that would get us started. I concentrated on two questions about the paternity quota, but will address one of the others in this post. What is a man? I may not answer the question directly, but will look into what I believe is a worrying development in society. Sex.

Elliot Roger killed six people in Santa Barbara a few days ago. I recently wrote about people who like to label those with an autism spectrum disorders as violent. Some went down that road with Roger Elliot too, including his own family, but his problem was just anger. Research shows that it is less likely that people with autism spectrum disorders resort to violence. Some of the young people who have committed massacres have probably been influenced by psychotropic drugs, but we all know that hate and anger can affect us very strongly. I think many people are capable of horrible things, even if they are healthy and even though they are not particularly predisposed to violent behavior.

I do not know if that’s the case this time, but what Elliot Roger pointed out as the basis for his actions didn’t seem particularly serious. Those who were young in the 80s may remember the many movies in which sororities/fraternities were part of the action. These are social and professional organizations for students, but a lot of their activities revolve around alcohol and sex. I’m sure that’s not all they do, but a study from 1996 compared male first-year students at the end of the first academic year. The study compared members of such associations with those who were not members. It showed that members had a significantly lower reading comprehension, as well as weaker results in math and critical thinking. Membership also seems to have had a negative impact on cognitive development. It would thus appear that there is something to the criticism of these organizations.

Many people have great expectations about taking part in this culture. Elliot Roger was bitter because he felt he wasn’t allowed to participate in the life he thought he was entitled to. What concerned him the most was that he at the age of 22, he had neither kissed a female, nor had sex. He killed himself too, but if he had lived, he would have had to take responsibility for those murders. There is still reason to wonder if society is sick, or if it makes us sick.

When I was young it was a little embarrassing to admit that one was a virgin, but there were some who were brave enough to say it. I remember well an intern I worked with at a large Aluminum factory during every summer in the 90s. He gave us vivid descriptions every Monday on his weekend adventures, and he talked about how close he had been to “scoring,” but I’m not sure his aggressive strategy tempted the girls very much. He was probably farther away from happiness than he thought, but he was still a cheerful type of guy. There are probably many who are not “getting any”, without that making them killers, but I think many are unnecessarily unhappy because of the great importance we attach to sex being necessary for a happy life.

I dated a bit before I got married, but not as much as others because of my not-so-perfect social skills. I have described my diagnosis nonverbal learning disabilities before. I might be seen as old-fashioned and conservative, but in my world it is not negative with only few partners during a lifetime. I wish my social skills had been better when I was growing up, but it had probably been a lot worse being a teenager today. There is a much stronger focus on your life being a failure without friends and without sex.

There has been a development since I was young. It seems that there is no longer just a little teasing for teenage boys who have never had sex. It seems like there is a pressure to have as much experience as possible, as early as possible, preferably with both sexes, and without wasting time on friendship. It’s almost as you are being viewed as intolerant if you have problems with this. I have even heard of cases where men identify themselves as female, but insist on retaining their male genitalia. I guess I’m a bit old fashioned when I don’t feel comfortable in a world where sex is a transaction and feelings are irrelevant.

inspirational quote painted on a a wall: It is no measure of good health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society
Photo: David Silver via flickr

It’s a bit strange to witness what is happening in social media. Many push selfies to extremes, and there is almost no limit to what we share with the world. I have even seen a few cases of people using facebook as the classifieds and posted phone number and address with desperate invitations for girls to contact them. It almost seems that the internet has made us sick.

There have been many school massacres in the United States, and bullying is usually being discussed in the wake of these. I think it is equally important to discuss the obsession society has with respect to sex. According to the media, Roger has looked at porn since he was 11. Porn is becoming more and more available, and unless parents have parental control software or something similar, there are probably many more boys sitting in their bedrooms and downloading videos and images.

The message the porn industry wants to sell, and I do not think the mainstream media is any better, is that boys are not men if they do not have many sexual partners. If you’re a virgin, or if you stick to one partner, there is something wrong with you. Therefore, there are also many websites that offer advice on how you should go about losing your virginity. But before the young boys come that far, TV and internet have created some expectations. I hear it in the language at least down to 5th grade. It has evolved a great deal in recent years. They use adult words, but have no idea what they are talking about. Sex literally surrounds us, but we do not talk about it. I have briefly touched on sex education at several of the schools I have substituted for, and I got the distinct impression that many kids had not talked to any adults about it before, and that includes high school students.

I’m not an expert in the area, but it probably was not much better with hippies in the 60’s. After that we went into a more conservative period, but in the last few years many barriers have been broken down. I don’t think young people today have more sex than in the 60’s, but one can get that impression in our oversexed society. I still think some attitudes have changed, because although the Hippies encouraged many partners, I am not sure if you were seen as a deviant if you were a virgin. What may have changed is that many arrange blind dates online or via text message, and we accept more and more sex without moral responsibility and feelings. The’deviants’ in today’s society are dinosaurs like me.

I have a facebook friend in USA who reacted with disgust when Dylan Farrow, adopted daughter of Mia Farrow and Woody Allen, wrote an open letter to Woody Allen. Dylan has previously accused Woody Allen of abuse, and repeated these allegations in this letter right before the Oscar ceremony a few months ago. Mia Farrow separated from Woody Allen in 1992 when she found out that Woody had a relationship with one of their other adoptive daughters. He later married this daughter. I read comments on facebook, as this open letter was published, who defended Woody Allen. They thought it was okay because this wasn’t really his daughter. It was Mia Farrow who had adopted these girls. The commenters clearly missed the point.

This is not unlike pedophiles who defend their actions with the claim that children are not harmed by what they do. It is society’s reaction that harms them. There was a book published last year claiming that we are all deviants. I think it was called Perv. I haven’t read the book, and don’t want to put words in the author’s mouth, but it seems that the trend is moving towards everything goes. We should have more openness and acceptance. If is feels good, it, is good. I think, therefore, it is particularly paradoxical that one of the most stigmatized groups in our society might be the 22 year old male virgin. At the same time, I think many would like to see the girls being virgins.

I wrote about Bronies just before Christmas, and got some attention from some aggrieved Bronies. The largest fan base to My little pony is actually men and there are big conferences where teenage boys and men come together. If nothing else, they might challenge our ideas of what masculinity is.

Speaking of what a man is. The Danish writer, Jack Staugaard has a brilliant description. He has just released the book Halvt Engel, Halvt Dæmon – et liv med NLD (Half Angel – Half Demon – a life with NLD). This is a translation of an excerpt from his facebook page:

 ‘You reach an age where you realise that to be a man is not about about strength and respect.  Being a man is about protecting and being there for those you love. Children look within and only think about themselves and their own needs; men see what’s around them and act on behalf of their loved ones needs.  The balance between wrong and right is what you want and what the ones you love want.’


3 thoughts on “A sick society

  1. A society is comprised of individuals. So, I suppose, if a society is showing an indication that it is sick, we should be willing to investigate.

    I didn’t see the related brony post here, so looked it up on your Norwegian site. It appears that particular consideration was not especially popular among commenters…8O

    Still, you’ve raised a valid question regarding our current definition of gender roles and our understanding of what constitutes acceptable adult behavior.
    Should “society” be allowed to determine these things in response to individual preference…or do we actually answer to a higher authority Who is largely being ignored?

    1. I clearly offended some people when I wrote about bronies. We are supposed to express tolerance towards anything these days, but thinking of teenage boys and even grown men acting out a My Little Pony-fantasy is respulsive to me.

  2. Well,it’s not hard to understand why you would consider it to be offensive.

    Somehow, the plea for “tolerance” seems to have morphed into a demand for approval. I guess people can become offended when someone fails to agree with what they are doing.

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