We are very proud of our ability to make ‘rational decisions’.

So proud as to delude ourselves into believing that if we have enough information about something and enough time to consider it our opinion/decision about that subject will be “true”.

Take as much time as you wish.

“Alex prays on his own now, studying the Koran to work out what it really seems to say about gender and sexuality.

Yet he fantasizes about attending Eid festivities in Oakland next year where his mother celebrates. “She can’t deny me when I’m right there in front of her friends,” he says.

But it now feels like the hardest fight is in the past, not the future.

“When your mother hurts you, no one can hurt you as much as that,” he says. “My strength comes from that.” ”

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/how-a-transgender-muslim-man-brings-his-worlds-together/ar-BBlgNNU?ocid=iehp

betterfailling:

People starting to trust each-other instead of blindly following the rule of the land was what transformed feudalism into ‘capitalism’/free market/democracy.
That came to be when populations happening to inhabit a certain area morphed into nations = people developed enough understanding about their fellow countryman as to trust them.
Nowadays capital no longer signifies trust but a mere pile of money and democracy has devolved into a mere ritual.
This is why nationalism has degenerated from ‘I know/trust you so let’s do business together’ into ‘I’m afraid of everybody else so I need you to guard my back’.

Originally posted on azizonomics:

Britain is in the grip of a worrying trend.

Our own Prime Minister compared migrants in Calais to insects when he called them a “swarm”.

Meanwhile, internet comment sections relating to the refugees are filled with hatred and venom. Asylum seekers are referred to as “invaders”, and the trolls encourage the British authorities to shoot them, to machine gun them, and hang them on meat hooks.

This dehumanization of immigrants frightens me. Not simply because dehumanization of large groups of people often foreshadows violence. It frightens me because this is just the tip of the iceberg. There is a lot more of this hateful stuff bubbling beneath the surface of our society. Anti-immigrant sentiment has been swelling in Britain for the last two decades, gently encouraged by tabloid journalists and other intellectually lazy people looking for an easy scapegoat for the economic and social problems of the…

View original 509 more words

It seems that people have finally started to understand what rape really means and to care about the victims.

But why rape in the first place?

When considering this subject we need to clearly define the concepts if we really what to understand what all it’s about.
Sometimes people get carried away. Maybe under some ‘influence’, she (half) willingly agrees at first and gets cold feet at some point but he doesn’t stop. That is indeed rape and should be punished as such but that is not the kind of rape I’m concerned about now.
What I had in mind when starting this is the ‘predatory’ rape. That kind of rape that is planned before hand by the perpetrator and cannot, under any circumstances, be treated with any degree of understanding. For instance gang or serial rape.

At this moment I feel the need to draw your attention to some less obvious kinds of predatory rape. For example the kind of ‘big game hunting’ that is going on now in Africa. Regardless of who does it. Law abiding citizens who pay for their permits and then bend the rules or poachers who act in a completely callous manner.

Another kind of predatory rape that is less discussed about is prostitution. Some of you will tell me that whatever takes place between consenting adults (two or even more) is nobody’s business. True enough but have you considered the role played by the pimp? You know, that guy who under the pretext of taking care of the ‘sexual worker’ exploits her savagely? Have you noticed that most of the prostitutes come from someplace else and have usually been lured under some false pretexts? That so many of them are very young and not so bright?
I can’t stop wondering what kind of satisfaction can be had during or after such an encounter… Specially today when there are so many single’s bars and internet dating services… But there one has to pass a certain exam, the partner has to agree, has to find you at least acceptable. There is a certain risk that you might be found wanting. While when hiring a prostitute there is no such risk. She has no say about her ‘clients’. And that’s why this IS rape.

So could it be that rape, predatory rape, is an action through which the rapist proves to himself that he is in ‘total control’?
And in the case of gang rapes – which are usually initiated and led by one of the gang members, very seldom this kind of things happen ‘spontaneously’ – the initiator does it to prove not only to himself but also to the rest of the gang who is the ‘top dog’.

To be continued.

Some 30 years ago I stumbled upon a book by Desmond Morris.

The Naked Ape.

I read it overnight because next day It had to be returned to its owner. Books published in their original languages were hard to come by in communist Romania…
Little did I know at that time that my interests will slowly shift from Mechanical Engineering to Sociology and then on to decision making… Anyway…
In that book Morris tries to convince us that women have so many periods because in this way they are a lot readier to receive their mates, thus ensuring a tighter bond inside the couple. In turn this is beneficial for the couple being able to raise the slower growing children that we have.
In short Morris proposes that monogamy is a step forward in human evolution.
I tend to agree with him and I even have a further argument. Imagine what would happen if a small number of alpha males would ‘corral’ – one way or another – most of the available nubile women, as it’s the case with the chimps or the gorillas. Do you think the rest of the males would be able to cooperate in any way towards the survival of the community they belong to or they’d be constantly obsessed about how to get laid?

Which brings me to my subject.

Emile Durkheim used the suicide as a pretext to introduce us to his theory about social solidarity and the social function played by what we consider to be a crime.

What if the incidence of rape could be studied in the same manner?

Bill Cosby – a man who, let’s face it, could have had legions of willing women – is accused  to have drugged and raped some 40 women in more than 30 years before anything came to public notice.
Jimmy Savile, a British “larger-than-life character”, used “his celebrity status and fund-raising activity to gain uncontrolled access to vulnerable people across six decades” and to unabashedly rape them.
Rape not only occurs randomly in war time but has also been used as a weapon:
Sexual violence is also used to destabilize communities and sow terror”.
Meanwhile France – Durkheim’s own Motherland – has become the stage for some 7000 ‘tournantes’ every year. The English term for ‘tournant’ being gang rape.

As Durkheim said more than a hundred years ago suicide is indeed an individual act/decision but it’s incidence is heavily influenced by what happens around that person.
Same thing is valid for rape. A rape appears at the intersection between the history/experience/upbringing of the rapist, the social/cultural milieu in which he lives and his ‘on the spot’ decision.

Sex sells.
“It’s been said that as human beings, we have a lizard or reptilian brain that responds to certain primal urges. Food is one. Sex and reproduction is definitely another. This underlying, pre-programmed disposition to respond to sexual imagery is so strong, it has been used for over 100 years in advertising. And the industry, while abusing it more and more, would be foolish to ignore the draw of sexual and erotic messaging.”

How far are we willing to go in order to make a sale? As far as Dolce and Gabbana went when they published the picture above?

Morris said that our first step towards humanity was to change our very physiology in order to promote (at least an apparent) monogamy. It seems that we are now altering our culture in order to sell more…

Gang Rape taken to the next level… Manipulation went wild…

There are a lot of definitions available for these concepts. I’ve found out that Google offers the blandest ones so I’ll use those. You’ll understand why.

a. “An experience involving the apparent perception of something not present
b. “An extraordinary and welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws and is therefore attributed to a divine agency.”
c. “An optical illusion caused by atmospheric conditions, especially the appearance of a sheet of water in a desert or on a hot road caused by the refraction of light from the sky by heated air.

If we follow the ‘dispassionate’ line used by Google we’ll notice that the ‘real’ problem is us, not a. b. or c.

We are the ones who are not able to figure out the source of the perception in a, the explanation for what happens in b and to reconcile what we know with what we see in c.

More than 35 years ago, while in college, I had to study ‘Marxism’. It was considered a science by the communists and all students had to take that class.
Marxism is a reaction against the idealist thesis that reality consists entirely of minds or spirits and of their experiences or ideas. The materialist conception of history, Marx and Engels contend, postulates the existence of an objective, concrete reality that is independent of human consciousness and is also its determinant“.

For a future engineer, and one that wasn’t particularly concerned with religion, the concept seemed appealing.
Something was nagging me though. In time I understood that Marx was making a huge mistake when conflating ‘objective’ with ‘real’ and individual consciousness with the collective one.
Also what he termed ‘reality’ is not that independent from consciousness as he would liked it to be.

I’ll start with the second idea.

We coined the term/concept of reality.
How’s that for ‘real’ independence?

Is there anything outside my individual knowledge/consciousness?
A lot.
Do I care?
Sometimes yes but most of it is both absolutely inconsequential for me and way out of my grasp. So my accepting its very existence depends decisively on ‘hearsay’ and faith…

Is there anything outside our collective knowledge/consciousness?
Probably yes. Hard to believe that we already know everything, right? Particularly since we discover something new each moment…
‘We discover’?!?
So it’s us who are ‘conquering’ more and more ‘reality’?!?
Wasn’t it supposed to be independent from us?

OK, you probably got it, I won’t bother you anymore with this.

Let me go back to ‘objective’ versus ‘real’.

Not influenced by personal feelings or opinions.
Actually existing as a thing or occurring in fact; not imagined or supposed.”

If we gather five children who haven’t yet seen a tarmac road scorched by the July Sun and take them to Arizona they’ll tell us, excitedly but objectively, that the road is boiling out there near the horizon.
We, the grown ups, know that’s a mirage. For them, it’s a miracle.
For a single child – one that knows the concept, of course – it might seem a hallucination, specially if he doesn’t have another person to speak to about what he sees.

Some independence… But wait, there’s more.

You are reading this on a computer. (If you call it a smartphone you are deluding yourself. It’s a computer that you can also use as a phone). Is it ‘really’ real?
According to Marx, I mean.
If your consciousness hasn’t yet digested effectively its ‘user manual’ that computer is little more than an useless  piece of junk… Not to mention the fact that its processor would still be a little pile of sand if not for an entire string of consciousnesses – from INTEL’s CEO to the driver who delivered it to the assembly plant and they are only a few of those involved in the process.

The fact is that we change the reality around us. We build cities, roads to connect them and power plants so we can cool our homes in summer.

And then we pretend reality is independent from us.
Who’s delusional now?

betterfailling:

“i wish i could talk to someone. i wish i could talk to my parents about all the things ive seen. theres so much i dont understand and so much that hurts to have seen. its like my eyes are directly related to my heart and my heart has been the heart of an old man for a long time.”

Originally posted on tenyearoldkevin:

kevins keyboardmy name is kevin. im 10 today. i had to lie, of course, when i went to get my email address and when i went to start this blog, and when i went to open my first facebook account. i had to pretend i was 20.  why? so i could be a ‘person’.

you see, 10 year olds aren’t real people yet. we can’t write what we want. we cant say what we want. we can’t have facebook. we can’t do fuck all. and yet, believe me, ive SEEN it all when my parents were out of the room. and when my teachers were out of the room.

parent, teachers, all of them are so so sadly messed up. they say they want to ‘protect’ us from things by blocking websites at school and by our parents putting computers in the kitchen so they can peek over our shoulders when…

View original 425 more words

Originally posted on Committing Sociology:

jim_jones_201-003Whenever you get a group of people together who share certain basic assumptions, there’s a (seemingly) natural tendency for the group to gravitate toward the most uncompromising, extreme, strident, fundamentalist, hard-core positions. Social psychologists call this tendency group polarization. It happens on juries with some regularity. It explains why the Tea Party became so insane, so deeply out of touch with the needs and views of the average American voter. And it explains why the Bush Administration invaded Iraq without an exit strategy (they stopped inviting people who disagreed with their assumptions—people like Colin Powell—to the planning meetings).

MansonLook, don’t get me wrong, there’s no harm in group polarization if you’re just having fun, or brainstorming. But if you actually want to change the world, if you actually want to communicate (and be relevant), it’s a tendency that must be actively resisted. In The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are…

View original 263 more words

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