David Brooks weighs in on all the super-pervs being outed with all the tepid, weird, awkward, (It’s the libs’ fault) aplomb we’ve come to expect from him.
Most men are raised with a certain way of thinking about sex. It’s the way contained, implicitly, in every children’s love story, in most every classic novel and in the lived experience of most married parents. It is: Sex is something you do with the person you love.
We’ll call this the room of love. In this room, you get to know someone and a spark is struck. This could be the person you want to spend your life with. So you begin getting to know him or her better, first over a meal, then through activities.
So a lot of men cross the threshold and enter another room, the room of the prospector.
In this room sex is a gold nugget, a pleasure, like any other pleasure, except maybe it’s better and the desire for it is stronger. If you’re straight, women are the people who can give you this pleasure. When you go to a college party or a club, you’re on the prowl for women who want to share this pleasure with you. Most pop songs are about this kind of conquest. Girl I want your body.
I thought my new favorite aesthetic was Ari Melber earnestly quoting lyrics from rap artists…and it still is because David Brooks earnestly quoting lyrics from…any random ’90’s R&B-pop boy band?????…creeps me the hell out.
Second, the line between the prospector room and the predator room is getting blurrier. On campuses, the few predators use the general prospector atmosphere as a perfect playground for their exploitation. More important, in the public mind the line between unwanted sexual attention and force is growing indistinct.
…And here we get to the meat of it: it’s sexy sexy college (pssst: slutty women on birth control who party) with its sexy TV’s sitting on sexy milk crates and sexy greasy pizza and sexy crippling debt that makes men forget about the Room of Love.
In the political world, for example, partisans of left and right rationalize their support for Bill Clinton or Donald Trump because they could tell themselves in effect, “Oh, he’s just a horny prospector.” By treating such behavior as “locker-room talk” or laddish behavior, they helped smooth the ground for all the predators to come.
It is necessary but not enough to have a negative vision of what men should not do. It would also be nice if there were some positive vision of how sexuality fits into a rich life, how it flourishes in the private sphere as a (very fun) form of deep knowing. If we had a clearer concept of a beautiful relationship we’d also have a clearer concept of what predatory behavior looks like and what it takes to eradicate it. In a degraded environment, the predators, who are few and vicious, are more likely to be tolerated by the many, who are numb.
Here I fell asleep, and when I woke up Ross Douthat had finished Brook’s column for him. I don’t know. I’m not sure. These priggish misogynists start to blur together in my mind after awhile.