‘Not much to tell. I think they were doing medical experiments…fucking up people’s heads, making them do what they were told.’
‘They don’t need experiments to tell them how to do that. That’s their oldest trick.’ – The Invisibles.
Between the starter and the main, we talked about sex education. We had both been pleased, that morning, to see that it was being made compulsory in schools, but were less happy about the prospects for it including meaningful QUILTBAG content. ‘Which will just wind up making queer kids more vulnerable,’ he said.
‘Yeah,’ I agreed. ‘Y’know, sometimes I almost think they want to do that. Because…I mean, maybe it makes me sound like a conspiracy theorist but…’
‘…there’s been a lot of high profile paedophiles?’ He finished.
I nodded. He was right. There had been. And in the aftermath of everything we’ve found out since 2012, and especially everything which happened last year, it no longer seemed quite so far-fetched to suggest that policy might be being imposed for reasons other than its overt end. Bad reasons.
And this is why I hate the nonsense that is Pizzagate.
Pizzagate – the sort of conspiracy theory which makes one wonder if the media’s depiction of most parapolitics researchers as spittle-flecked, neckbearded ignorami isn’t, if anything, a little too generous – started out as a rumour about organised paedophile rings linked to a number of major US political figures who all turned out to be connected to Hillary Clinton’s election campaign. Anyone with an ounce of sense would have seen this as the smear campaign it obviously was, but it proved irresistible to the 4chan Frogfuckers who took the stump for Trump because it combined two of their favourite things: hating Hillary Clinton, and working themselves into a good old lather over thoughts of kids being abused under the guise of a rootin’ tootin’ moral panic. What could be more American, after all? It sure worked in Salem!
The rumour was quickly debunked, but by the time it had been exposed as a laughable bout of pearl-clutching over a few utterly innocent lines in a politico’s email, it had metastasized, via Reddit, into the most depressing game of Illuminati: New World Order ever, now taking in very real child abuse sex scandals in Belgium, the recent discoveries about just how kind the Golden Age of British Entertainment was to child molesters, and links between the Clinton Foundation and disgraced playboy paedophile Jacob Epstein (although not, curiously, Epstein’s friendship with Trump – funny, that), all tied together with the notion of an international child-trafficking ring ran by – how’d you guess? – those pesky lefties!
The thing which annoys me about Pizzagate is this: it’s based on the false premise that rape is such a terrible crime in society’s eyes that it needs to be hidden, in outlandish ways, in a massive dungeon underneath a pizza parlour, with the clues hidden away in a secret language known only to an inner circle until St Julian of Definitely Never Having Raped Anybody released the docs and cracked the code.
Look closely at that paragraph and you’ll already have spotted the major plot hole in this movie: you have people using data from celebrated accused rapist Julian Assange to accuse John Podesta of rape. The rape accusations against Assange, however, don’t matter because all that stuff was made up by the conspiracy to discredit him, whereas the accusations against Podesta are definitely true despite having a much weaker evidential basis and looking, to anyone who hasn’t drunk the Kool-Aid, a lot like a conspiracy to cook allegations up to discredit Podesta. Yes indeed, the cognitive dissonance is strong in these ones.
Beyond the usual conspiratoid hypocrisy, though, it simply isn’t the case that society treats rape as a crime so unforgivable it must be carried out in hidden basements, talked of only in code. If it were, there would be no useful idiots cheering Assange on; the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences would not be handing out Oscars to men accused of rape and sexual harassment; and, of course, America would not, now, be slouching towards apocalypse under the petty tyranny of a man who boasts to other men about committing sexual assault.
The phrase you’re looking for to describe this isn’t any compound word ending with ‘gate’ – it’s rape culture. And, like the conspiratoids’ formaggio fantasia, its tendrils spread throughout the system, and are put to a myriad of weaponized uses. Rape culture means having to be hypervigilant at almost all times in public space; it means seeing your own experience of rape casually dismissed by Tory journalists looking to stoke up transphobia; it means fascists defending a police officer who raped a young man with a truncheon.
It’s more than just the headline cases, though. In my post about Reality TV I talked about how one of the insidious effects of shows like Amish Mafia is to train people in a particular way of reacting to people whose appearance signifies religious difference. And increasingly I think rape culture benefits The Dark Forces Who Would Rule This Planet because it trains us in a particular way of relating to our bodies and authority.
You can see it in attempts to limit transgender bathroom access, to ban headscarves in the workplace, to force pregnant people to have transvaginal ultrasounds before abortion, to force workers to undergo genetic tests at the whim of their employers. We can see its tracks in the creepy cult of mandatory nude ‘posture improvement’ photography at American universities in the early 20th century.We see rape culture at work when women selectively advantaged by patriarchy arrogate to themselves the power to define the womanhood of others.
Rape culture tells us that our bodies aren’t our own. Rape culture keeps us from learning about our bodies, our genders, ourselves, and ensures that whatever information we do manage to learn is low quality and slanted to a patriarchal agenda. Rape culture tells us that bodies and sexualities like our own are always comic relief, titillation, opposition – never protagonists, even in media supposedly centred on us. Rape culture tells us that the people who hurt us will get away with it, so we may as well just go along with it and hope we don’t get hurt too badly. Go along with the bathroom bans, the ultrasounds, the stop-and-frisks, the slow confiscation of everything, to use Laurie Penny’s phrase. Just lie back, think of Brexit, let it happen. And, as Tom points out in the quote above, that’s the oldest trick in their toolbox.
The meal was lovely, by the way.