Men Who Hate Women (and other pop-culture-induced reflections)

So…right now I am (much to my own surprise) hooked on Hannibal and Bates Motel. Oddly enough, I do not connect these two, despite their psychological thriller premises, because they strike such different tones from each other.  Hannibal has a Monk-meets-Dexter tone to it, but watching Bates Motel brings to my mind the Millennium Trilogy. One of the central conflicts is the pervasive evil of sex trafficking, and I can’t help but notice the way this subject brings with it a certain tone, not only in pop culture, but in the world.

In the Millennium trilogy, the author draws a clear connection between sadism and the sex trade, and between the sex trade and chauvinism. In Bates Motel, Norma Bates is a victim, tangled in the center of a web of men who would do her violence–woman-hating bastards, if you will.  Like Lisbeth Salander, a crusader against rapists and defilers, Norma projects this evil onto all men. It is not an unfair position: the men these women encounter are evil, and they are involved in sex trafficking.

But do they hate women? I think so. Recently I have learned a lot about sex trafficking through the non-profit work of my friends (Judy, Deb & Jimmy) with A Second Cup. And what I have learned has led me to this conclusion: men who, by participation, propagation, or purchase, do anything to promote the sex trade, are men who hate women. This is a business that treats women as property, that devalues them by enslaving them and selling them–this is a business of reducing women to something less than human. This is a business of hating women.

I think this is true without exception. There is the obvious evil embodied in men like Zala–men who build their empires on this slavery, who are completely aware of the processes and knowingly profit from every demoralizing act done to each of their slaves. But there also the subtle evils of the Bjurmans and the Dr. Teleborians–the men who protect their overlords, the house slaves who stand by and take their profits, sometimes even closing their eyes to the more depraved actions of the men who pay them.

But the customers are also guilty. A man who hires a prostitute tells her that he does not consider her to be a human. He tells her that she is an object of his pleasure, a thing, not a person. He may turn away from the larger picture of slavery. He may not even know about it. But his ignorance does not exempt him. He has devalued a woman by purchasing her body. He is a woman-hating bastard.

Finally, there are the rapists. They are often not a part of the sex trade. They do not pay for the women they devalue. Indeed, they often escape any kind of accountability for the pleasure they obtain. Yet they are possibly more evil than the overlords or the foremen. They take what they want–they steal a woman’s body from her. They do not offer any price–a woman has no value to them. They are truly men who hate women.

I cannot pretend I have never seen firsthand what comes of such devaluation. And I cannot pretend that I have not blindly hated those men, the men who have stolen something precious from people I loved. Some of these women have since forgiven, but I will not. I hate these men, and countless men who violate women, the men all over the world who would hurt my family, my friends, my acquaintances, women I will never meet, women whose names the world will forget, women like me, me. I hate them because they are men who hate women.

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