While driving to the woods for a run, on the radio I heard Amanda Marcotte make the very sensible point that regardless of how girls dress for a high school dance, boys and fathers are responsible for controlling how they behave in response, i.e., to respect girls’ right to consent or not, rather than blame the victims of sexual harassment or assault.
Soon I was running by a stand of virgin white pine trees. I gazed in admiration up their tall, straight boles, rare sights in a land where such beauties had been pillaged for shipbuilding. I heard in my head what a royal servant choosing such a tree for felling might have told himself by way of justification: If God didn’t want us to cut down these trees, he wouldn’t have made them so straight and strong, so perfect for shipbuilding. It occurred to me how analogous this justification is to men’s implicit attitude toward women: If I am not supposed to sexually conquer her, why is she made to be so arousing?
While sexually assaulting a person is more egregious than cutting down a tree, it is worth considering the similarity: in both cases, the victim is made into a natural object which a person wielding greater power believes himself entitled to take for his superior purpose. One can easily imagine similar reasoning justifying other power dynamics, e.g.: If I am not supposed to own all these slaves, why are they made to be so strong and uncultured, so perfect for laboring, and I more intelligent and civilized, more adept at commanding?