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There is something about some of the recent sex harassment/assault cases involving Harvey Weinstein, Matt Lauer, Louis CK and James Toback that I have had a hard time understanding. For the life of me I just cannot understand these men who are compelled to expose themselves and masturbate in front of their victims. Look, I'm no prude, truth is I am as much a pervert as the next person, but I am entirely incapable of grasping, no pun intended, the allure of exposing and gratifying myself in front of an unwilling victim.
Obviously sex assault and harassment has to do more with power than with sex, I get that, but that only seems to be a pretty shallow psychological interpretation of the issue. What interests me is what is occurring on a much deeper psychological level, dare I say a mythical level, for this type of act to become a "thing" and rise to public consciousness.
I had a conversation on this topic the other day with a friend of mine, a wise man I call The Falconer. In the course of our discussion, The Falconer and I came up with some speculative conclusions on this issue that I thought I'd share. Here they are….
At the most basic level, sex is a primal instinct. Rape or sexual assault is an aggressive and abnormal expression of that primal need. But when a man exposes himself and masturbates in front of an unwilling victim, he is not using that person's body to satiate his sexual needs, something else is going on.
As Nietszche tells us, God is dead, and in our current culture that is certainly true at least in terms of the Abrahamic God of the old religions. The old religions are no longer capable of containing the modern man and his pulsating Id, and yet there have, as of yet, been no worthy replacements for those old religions. Mankind is thus in a state of disorientation because we are no longer oriented to the old religions and are yet to be oriented to an adequate new religion that we desperately yearn for to hold all of our expanded selves.
As we wander around trying to reorient ourselves to something expansive enough, we are like hermit crabs searching for a new shell to call home. In the age in which we live, the shell we have stumbled into is the religion of Self. The religion of Self is an inevitable outgrowth of the Reformation and has evolved and morphed over the centuries into a theology where the Self is not only the center of the universe but is the entire universe.
From reality television to Facebook to selfies, it is easy to see how the religion of Self manifests in our current culture. Just like the old religions, our current version of the religion of Self is not strong enough to contain our Id and its accompanying sexual appetites, and therefore conjures up the unique kind of aberrant sexual behavior seen from the likes of Weinstein, Toback, Lauer and CK.
In the Old Testament, Adam and Eve were told by God to "cover themselves". When Weinstein, Toback, Lauer and CK expose themselves they are jettisoning aside the God of the last few thousand years and are arrogantly replacing Him with themselves.
Weinstein, Toback, Lauer and CK expose themselves because in their psyches, they are the new god, and the admonition of "cover thyself" applies not to gods but to mortals. Thus the unfortunate women who had to witness the unveiling of the genitals of these men - became tools to sustain their belief in their own superiority and divinity.
In many ways, by exposing themselves the way they did, Weinstein, Toback, Lauer and CK committed an act of near Luciferain defiance in the eyes of God. These men weren't just sinning against those women, but against the God of the last age, thus declaring their place on his vacant throne. These egregious acts of malignant narcissism are a result of the inability for these men to even consider the idea of humbling themselves (or their sexual desires) before the altar of any other god. Like all narcissists, Weinstein, Toback, Lauer and CK reveal that it isn't an abundance of self-love that generates deviant behavior, it is a paucity of a true Self and love for that genuine Self.
Of course, all of these psychological machinations occur on the level of the sub-conscious and are fed by the void left by God and the resulting disorientation among the collective unconscious .
In the Weinstein, Toback, Lauer and CK scenario, they also elevated themselves in to the position of god by not being touched or touching the women involved. A god cannot sully themselves with the flesh of a mortal, and so the women who suffered this abuse were deemed to be so beneath these god-men that they could only be forced to watch their sexual exploits from a distance.
In the case of Weinstein and Lauer, they exposed themselves in the course of demanding sexual favors from women, and when those women said no, they would masturbate in front of them as a sort of divine punishment. This is also an attempt to elevate themselves to the status of a god. When Weinstein and Lauer exposed their genitals, the women were supposed to kneel before them in awe, as if in prayer, as they serviced their holy erections. These men were demanding the women worship their erections as talismans of their religion of Self.
If the women failed to accept the request of the god (Weinstein/Lauer), then these men would force them to face the humiliation and denigration of god. As the men masturbated and ejaculated, they were unburdened, and they shifted that burden onto their victims, who Christ-like, had to carry the burden of that cross with them for the rest of their life. The act of ejaculation in these situations was a jettisoning of the shame and sin of these men onto their victims who then had to carry that shame and sin for them.
One of the most striking things about this situation is the complete lack of shame on the part of these men. In the old religion where God told Adam and Eve to cover themselves, exposing one's genitals would generate great shame on the part of the exposer. In the religion of Self, it is the exposer who feels no shame and the witness who carries all the shame.
One more point regarding Harvey Weinstein. I read a piece in the New York Times which reveals that Harvey suffered from erectile dysfunction and needed injections in order to get an erection. This would support the notion that the erection for Weinstein is a talisman of his religion of Self. Weinstein's erections were a miracle of modern medicine and were like the mysterious transformation of bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ. The fact that Weinstein was unable to get an erection without medical aide also speaks to the malformed masculinity that drives a person like that and reflects that at his core, he is a hollowed out and vacant man.
Weinstein, Toback, Lauer and CK have all had their religions of Self exposed, no pun intended, for the frauds that they are. The Catholic Church went through the same sort of fundamental crisis with the sex scandals of the last few decades. I say this as a Catholic myself, but the Catholic church was mortally wounded by the child sex scandal, and that scandal was symbolic of the death knell for all the old religions.
The religion of Self, at least in the case of Weinstein, Toback, Lauer and CK, is going through a similar existential crisis. It took the Catholic Church 2,000 years to implode under the weight of its hypocrisy and degenerate behavior, but it has only taken the religion of Self a few decades.
The Catholic Church and the Abrahamic religions will continue to exist for the foreseeable future, as will the religion of Self, but none of them are big enough to adequately contain all that is the modern evolving man. For good or for ill, all will be jettisoned to the ash heap of history…it is simply a matter of time, be it decades, centuries or millennia. What replaces them is anyone's guess, but whatever it is, it will only survive if it can hold the entirety of our spiritual, psychological, emotional and sexual drives.