About 'Alpha+Good'

Alpha+Good (a bad wordplay on Orwell's "double plus good" and old machismo - I'm the realest after all) is a side project that belongs to 'Onklare taal' ('Unclear' or 'Unripe language'), the umbrella of several literary projects in Dutch.

This section is almost exclusively in English and comprises my ongoing thoughts on progress, gender, politics and various other social themes. Why is this in English why everything else in Dutch? Because I want to gun for a much wider audience here. Also, my literary English isn't good enough, otherwise I would always write in English.

Are you a little lost? This link will take you right back to my home page.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Connecting the dots

The gruesome gang rape, the resulting death of the victim, and the outrage it sparked in India as well as internationally, has probably baffled many people. As with brutal war crimes (that often involve graphic rape in no small part), acts like that seem almost incomprehensible from a common sense point of view. Why would people ever brutalise another human being like that? How is it possible that an entire group of adult people can participate in something so despicable and senselessly destructive that most people would not hesitate to put the perpetrators of these acts to death?

A lot of explanations have been offered for crimes like that. A sort of group think that becomes increasingly locked up in a bubble of its own and then produces terrible excesses is one explanation that is often offered. But I find that it also acquits people who were not directly involved with such crimes all too easily.

Gang rapists aren't born as hardened misogynists who don't see women (or in some cases, certain types of men) as human beings. The same is true for genocidal war criminals. Some among them might have been sociopaths all along, but the majority probably isn't. They're not born into their bubble of hate and frustration, but they do start off with basic assumptions about women or minorities that society openly condones or at least tolerates.

Women in India are second-class citizens at best. A staggering number of girl infants is murdered every year because having sons supposedly brings more honour to the family, and a dowry for a girl can break the back of a family already under financial stress. It's one of the most brutal points of intersection between sexism and capitalism, by the way. A lot of poor men grow up with the realization that they'll never be able to find a wife, yet they watch television and consume media that portray women in varying degrees as objects with no other purpose than to please men, and see women struggling for independence outpacing them in terms of power, success and money.

That poisonous cocktail really isn't that specific for India. It's the same story for misogynists in the rural United States, poor youths of North African origin in the streets of Brussels or Paris, or whatever group of men that is constantly told their genitals make them superior and entitled, yet are never able to cash in on that entitlement. There has even been a convincing case for the fact that it's that sort of rage that played a part in the mass shootings of the past decade, nearly always committed by white men in their '20s.

Until we recognise and see that as a society, we are still providing too much fertile ground for the most terrible excesses to start growing, and that these people do not start out as extremists or can be dismissed as completely alien, these things will continue to happen.