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Promising Young Woman

Promising Young Woman

A young college woman is raped by a man. No justice is found, the rapist is an otherwise ‘promising young man’ with a future ahead of him. His victim merely a blip, those who witnessed or were aware of the rape pretend as thought it never happened. This is the catalyst for the plot of the movie, ‘Promising Young Woman’. The victim commits suicide and her friend seeks revenge by feigning drunkenness and luring other promising young men into her trap until she goes after those that had anything to do with the initial rape, the film turns into a tragic tale of trauma and misery. The film’s title is a play on the phrasing used anytime some young men are accused of rape, as though masculine potential is an important assessment of worth when weighed up to what they may have done. The movie is an indictment on culture and systems as they are experienced and understood by some women, those who have suffered and witnessed such injustice. The film uses actors that depict ‘nice guys’, an important aspect when the victim is twisted as being considered ‘willing’ or ‘deserving’.

The question raised by such a film is, when a person of importance or with likeable traits rapes or assaults a woman are we able to overlook this ‘flaw’. Norman Mailer is considered by many as being a terrific writer, also an abusive man with bigoted views which he was not shy of expressing. Mailer also nearly murdered his wife when he stabbed her with a pen-knife, this vicious attack did not minimise him being a frequent guest on television shows or as a heralded writer. As a literary institution, such an assault is often viewed as quirky charm his wife did not think so.

In a 1967 television appearance while discussing his book “Hells Angels”, Hunter S Thompson is challenged by one of the gang members that he had spent time with for research. During the exchange the bikie mentions an incident where Thompson was beaten by a member,”You got into a man’s personal argument …this is what happened, Junkie George was beating his old lady…” the audience breaks out in loud laughter and continue to do so as the story is told. Thompson in this instances is the outlier, the man who found domestic violence horrible not the bikies and as the anecdote is told, neither did the audience who found it amusing. The laughter may have been from an episode of “The Honeymooners” as Jackie Gleason threatens his wife, ‘One of these days Alice..” When men ruled the household.

In an article by Alyssa Royse, “Nice Guys Commit Rape Too”, a piece centred around the defence of one of her friends who admitted to raping a sleeping woman. Because the rapist is a nice guy and a familiar among her friend group, a defence is rallied and moral exceptionalism is conjured. The piece is written as an attempt to validate and justify the actions of a rapist, because he is a friend. The victim’s status is secondary, they are a stranger. It’s a telling example of how many are able to dismiss the deeds of a celebrity, a colleague or a family member regardless of what horrible actions they have committed. For promising young and important men it is an exemption that at times has concealed deeds and flushed their victims away. When someone likeable does bad things, few want to believe that they are capable of doing them which helps in their defence. Women have made false claims, though not as frequently as is often believed, rape and assault also goes vastly unreported.

Recently Cindy McCain has admitted that many around her knew of the real nature of Jeffrey Epstein and his exploitation of girls and women, including her deceased husband the conservative stalwart John McCain. Now that it can no longer harm her husbands career, the admission is safe to share. Many were well aware of what Jimmy Saville and Bill Cosby had been doing for years. It was only after he was dead that Saville was outed and in the case of Cosby when he was a faded star. Fame, status and importance is a power in itself that allows such men to get away with committing terrible deeds.

Among some conservative and apparently libertarian elements there is a belief that culture needs to restore a certain fundamentalist traditionalism, a depiction of a generally God-fearing male figurehead led nuclear family structure. Something that would have been on television when ‘The Honeymooners’ first aired. Anything outside of such is considered an aberration, and some have argued anti-liberty. Just like the New-Right’s reactionary anti-feminism in the 1980s, mostly American conservatives have raised their phallus’s again in a call to arms to stop the threat of women’s liberation. No room is left for nuance, anything outside of a romanced traditionalism is pariah.

Footage of conservative celebrity Steven Crowder’s conversation with his pregnant wife, Hilary unveiled a man who is abusive and domineering. Hilary has since filed for divorce, with Steven complaining about her right to do so. Texas having a “no fault divorce.” Most grown ups understand that in a relationship, one party is not a prisoner to the other, others however feel that a woman is obligated to remain married unless in extreme circumstances. There is no shortage of bros coming to Crowders defence.

There is a growing danger in a narrative that determines sex and gender roles based on selective segments of history, it is a collectivist logic that imprisons individualism and steers away from merit and ability. Let alone desire or aspiration. Individual liberty assumes a diverse landscape. It can be both feral and orderly. The 1950s Telly family and those found on advertising pamphlets from the days of President Eisenhower are fictions. To ‘inspire’ and bully many into having children and marrying, living the caricature may be some peoples dreams. It’s a nightmare that some had to endure. Not all women wish to be subjugated to this life and should they choose a different path this does not make them an enemy or a threat to family. A young woman’s promise is not in the fertility of her womb, she may have other ambitions and preferences.

If strangers generating memes are the motivation to have children and get married, then one needs to question their own moral framework. If men who preach familiar units are themselves incapable of non-abusive relationships, it reveals a reality that exists outside of the illusion. The strange marriage of libertarianism and American conservatism is a dangerous rejection of individual liberty and hinders the international potential for the philosophy of freedom. Inviting a particular type of American conservatism to bed is globally prohibitive and reactionary in a brief moment of “woke” hysteria. The “culture war” has become one that burns with reckless disregard, alienating individuals who seek liberty and the antiwar message while embracing those who do not. It also seems to ensure that insecure men gain a status that any free market of merit and deed would otherwise deny them.

Women are not servants and second class creatures, it’s not a lefty feminist ideal to acknowledge this. Intelligent, independent and capable women are not a threat to masculinity, in fact the existence of such women can inspire one to be a better man. It’s the desire to suppress, bully and ridicule women and condemn them to a place of marital type-casts that exhibits a lack of positive masculinity. It does not make one an “Alpha” to gang up on OnlyFan “Thots” or dismiss a woman’s views on social media’s by giving her a “rating” based on her physical appearance. This shows both cowardice and weakness. The belief that certain roles and relationships are unnatural come from a place of bias and lack of imagination. Women’s liberation has different meaning to a lady in rural India than it may for a female in Silicon Valley, the perspective vary.

Culture is not something that needs to be mandated by government or laws, it’s oftentimes inspired by example. Masculinity is a utility of beingg accountable, reliable, tough and consistent, it’s not an aesthetic, cigars, suits and denigrating others to enhance status. Masculinity is also Ted Bundy, My Lai massacre, the Rape of Nangking, Epstein Island. Masculine and feminine are neither positive or negative. Being a male does not make one manly or the most capable in every and any given situation.

The advent of women’s liberation has not destroyed the family unit, if your family unit required a woman to be obligated or trapped was it worth saving in the first place? A free market will reveal where women or any gender or sex for that matter go in accordance to individual capability and ability, it’s laws and regulations that maintain a status quo and creates imbalances.

To challenge those who would protect rapists and abusers is not to suddenly whimper into feminism, it’s a moral position. One can understand that masculinity can have a ‘toxic’ element to it. Many women are aware that there is a “female curfew”, not because of any law but because experience and awareness guides a decision to avoid walking alone at night. This does not mean that those women adopt an “all men are evil” logic. It does however provide a wider understanding as to how some individuals experience the world because of who they are. For many females, this is the world that they live in and some are becoming wary of a push for a fundamentalist culture that breeds a male entitlement to their bodies and minds.

In a social media age as Andrew Tate and other manosphere social media accounts surge in popularity, the comment sections gorge with males celebrating the narrative that non-virginal women or those with a “body count” of a varying amount (number of sexual partners) are tainted, sluts, inferior or soiled, the once pariah sharia law are now praised for being “based.” There is an entitlement of claim by such men, over female autonomy physically and spiritually. It seems that the promising young woman is only such so long as she is virginal, servile and with a fertile womb for men of a certain demographic to posses. “The issue that united the anti-slavery and feminist movements was a demand for the right of every human being to control his or her own body and property.” – Wendy McElroy, XXX

In the coming years those inside the American influenced realm of political philosophy will become ensnared in an ill defined ‘left’ versus ‘right’ tug for power. Usually focused on party politics, the same voices will claim that pragmatism will save the day and that for now the ‘right’ are allies in the cause of liberty. The Right has never been right on liberty, that is not a praise of the Left either. Liberty should not be a Left versus Right scale, it should not be linked to any political party and it certainly is not the domain of the United States and what is trending there. It’s dangerous to elevate a man above a woman based upon myths of tradition. Liberty is diverse, not all women want or need a man. Not everyone wants marriage or a family, let alone are suited to have one. How you may view the world differs from how others may see it. It should not need saying but ‘No’ does mean ‘No’ that includes a right to say no to a certain rigidity of relationships. Freedom does not just mean ‘free from government’, to some it’s also freedom from a man or men.

May 2023

Published inAll Articles and EssaysPhilosophy, Society and Liberty