There’s nothing new about it. Men are biologically sexually aggressive, a necessity for propagating our species. In his semi-comedic tale, “That Pig of a Morin,” the great late-18th century short-story writer Guy deMaupassant tells of Morin’s assault on a beautiful young woman. Seated opposite her on a train, Morin, overcome by her beauty and unable to contain his desire, leaps off his seat, embraces her, and kisses her passionately. Startled and frightened, the woman screams for help. It arrives, Morin is apprehended, and scheduled to stand trial for “an outrage on morals in a public place.” Through a series of maneuvers and interventions, and with the consent of the victim herself , Morin is freed from prosecution. His punishment, instead, is to be forever referred to by friends and neighbors as “that pig of a Morin.”
Morin’s transgression is, of course, not his natural desire, but his inability to control it. This is a form of infantilism. Every developed male knows that the female, biologically and unconsciously driven to perpetuate the best genes, is the ultimate decider of sexual partners. And further, he knows that sex with a partner that doesn’t really want it, is miserable. The glib conclusion to this is that sexual assault by men is less about sex than about power. Maybe, and, in many cases, maybe not.
It’s hard to deny that we live in a society that incessantly sexually objectifies women. We’re bombarded with advertising in all media that uses female sex appeal to sell everything from weight-loss products to automobiles, with women appearing scarcely covered in much promotion.
Sports Illustrated, a magazine directed mainly to men interested in sports, has an annual “Swimsuit Issue” featuring virtually naked, nubile women. Its 2017 issue is billed as “The Sexiest Ever.” By virtue of the magazine itself, its hard to avoid the implication that being aroused by beautiful naked women is some form of “sport.” Added to this is the proliferation and ready availability of pornography, that projects the illusion of every woman panting indiscriminately for sex.
Clearly, we’re living in a culture that puts a lot of pressure on already aggressive men by saying, “We are going to constantly titillate you, but you can’t impulsively act on it!” We would consider it sadistic, if not insane, to place a lavish meal before a hungry person and say, “You can’t eat it.”
The age-old problem of sexual temptation and resistance is central to most religions. Christianity dooms one eternally to a mythical Hell for submitting to “lust,” which many of its ministers, priests, and popes have regularly engaged in. Muslims address the issue from the temptation aspect: they force their women to disappear under a tent of black robes and shawls.
But sex will not be denied – even in those restrictive Eastern cultures where, ironically, the harem flourished. Any breach of the sexual mores of those cultures is invariably blamed on the woman, who can be stoned to death for adultery, while her male partner goes free. By these laws (established and adjudicated by men!), the man is the victim, seduced by virtue of the inordinate sexual power attributed to women, tempting him, and unleashing the “uncontrollable,” and therefore, blameless, male sexual aggressiveness.
In addressing male arousal through the sexual exploitation of women, the antidote for inappropriate male aggression is either that men become anesthetized, or they develop better impulse control. The former is dangerous, if not impossible; the latter requires an advanced degree of development in a species of uneven development. Therefore, the sexual abuse problem will probably persist for some time, regardless the penalties. Only the developed male knows – and is guided by the fact – that if she wants you, she’ll let you know, and until then, hands off. Not even our president has developed that far.