(Trigger warning for discussion of rape and abuse.)
I’ve been seeing a common underlying idea lately in a lot of discussions about violence against women. It’s an idea that explains a lot of what appear to be blindingly sexist–or just baffling–ideas about why violence happens, what it looks like, and what steps society should take against it. I’m going to call it the Slavering Beast Theory.
In the Slavering Beast Theory, there are two kinds of men. Two species, nearly. (I’ve seen people go so far as to claim that Slavering Beasts are the result of evolution, which might make them literally a subspecies.) There are ordinary guys and there are Slavering Beasts. And they are very, very easy to tell apart. They act different, even look different, to the point where any adult should be able to distinguish them in any casual social setting.[…] Slavering Beast diagnostics are almost always ex post facto–he committed violence? Well, no wonder, he’s a Slavering Beast! You should have seen it coming!
Ah yes. That day-glo SB tattoo that they’ve all got on their forehead is SUCH A GIVEAWAY, AMIRITE LADIES?
This dichotomy is how someone can simultaneously believe that women shouldn’t go out after dark because rape is such a big problem and believe that tons of rape accusations are false. It makes perfect sense if you believe there are Slavering Beasts out in the dark, but if an ordinary guy is accused of rape, there must be more to the story. It explains why people are angered by rape prevention tips aimed at men–those are insulting to ordinary guys, and Slavering Beasts won’t listen. And it justifies the belief that abuse victims had it coming: either they were abused by a Slavering Beast and should have known better, or they were abused by an ordinary guy and must have done something terrible to provoke him.
More than anything, it gives people a way to say “I’m not a Slavering Beast, so none of this applies to me.” Learning about gaining consent or recognizing abuse is pointless–Slavering Beasts will always be violent for no reason and ordinary guys never will.
Read the rest. It’s probably nothing most feminists haven’t thought in some form before, but Holly lays it out especially clearly. Nobody wants to think that somebody they know and like could do such a thing to somebody else, but the statistics are starkly clear – every one of us most likely knows several folks who have used violence in private (actual or implicit threat) to coerce and abuse others, and we can’t tell which ones of the people we know that might be.
It’s worthwhile extending this analysis beyond just the rape myths territory, too. Respected judges can be violent abusers behind doors, even (especially!) when one of their family members is particularly vulnerable due to a disability: how come all those people who voted for him over and over and invited him to preside over high status events never noticed his day-glo SB tattoo that the simplistic like to retrospectively pronounce must have been clearly obvious?
The answer of course is simple: abusive predators are generally far from obvious – they’re very very very good at sneaking under their neighbour’s radar and appearing extra trustworthy, because most people simply are not nearly as good at spotting the wrong’uns as they think they are, and keeping their abusive impulses hidden is how they get to keep on getting away with their harmful habits. When people think abstractly about this, the logic is inescapable – but people tend to fall back on Slavering Beast myths to deny the possibility when it’s someone they know and like.
Tangentially, this magical post facto sign that Slavering Beasts wear seems to be related to the magical Jerk sign that Nice GuysTM claim they can detect on any guy who is dating the women who won’t date them. Again, it’s just so obvious and women would see it if they would just listen.