Sunday, November 19, 2017


When I was a young teen and rode the city bus to downtown, it would sometimes happen — if the bus were crowded — that I would feel a soft patting to my bottom without any idea who was doing it.  I suspected the nearest older man, who often studiously looked away.  It didn’t hurt, I wasn’t exposed, I couldn’t prove it, there was no cupping or attempt to get in the groove, but there it was.  Repeatedly.  People I told about it laughed.

Today they are not laughing at George H.W. Bush.  For the naive, his fanny patting is just a sort of Uncle Doofus patronizing thing to do.  For the politically enflamed feminist the act is an atrocity, a pre-rape invasion of one’s body.  For the initiated kinks (those who explore the sexual edges) it is a very pale version of spanking.  For the sophisticated shrinks, famous people have enjoyed that particular perversion which came out of strict European practices like nursemaids who spanked their charges, maybe with their slipper or hairbrush (both good fetish objects), or school masters who believed in the cane — a more hard-core practice than spanking.  Paul Tillich and Winston Churchill are said to have been fond of being spanked.  Masters and Johnson said the best sex education for kids was seeing their dad fondly pat mom on the bottom while she washed dishes.  (There's a more recent and nicer trope about a man offering to dry the dishes while the women washes.)

A grown man spanking a grown woman is a trope.  In the Fifties it was often in the movies.  In “Frenchie” — Joel McCrea is a sheriff trying to control an uppity madam and bar owner played by Shelley Winters.  There's a "cat fight" between women but that's a different trope.  The sheriff turns the madam over his knee.  

In later films like “The Quiet Man”  John Wayne’s woman, Maureen O’Hara, doesn’t respect him until he gives her a good spanking. This vid version is from "McClintock.

My father loved these scenes and my mother played along, though I never saw him spank her.  He spanked us kids.  There was no suggestion of it being sexual until the last time he did it to me — I was fourteen, fully mature.  Even then, I don’t think we had the consciousness to understand why it was so disturbing.

A good (effective) sexual kink should combine the physiological/neurological built-ins from during early life, with cultural titillation, with traditional conflicts like “the war between the sexes,” with more passing irritations like trying to get women to defer to men after WWII when women had been running the show.  But taken to extremes, a kink-supported spanking can look a lot like torture and far exceed the imaginations of most folks who have better things to think about than the vignettes screenwriters ponder, the ones often called “beats.”  Urk.

One of the tropes that is as ubiquituous as breast-honking and fanny-patting is pretty vicious; it takes males as the victims.  I’m talking about crotch-kicking or kneeing.  It can be deployed in a script as a desperate defence by an attacked woman or it can be a sort of frat-boy joke with all the qualifications of being obscene, damaging, and provoking reactions of pain and embarrassment.  There is a bar franchise named for breast-honking (Hooters) but none for fanny-patting or spanking that I know of.  "Spankie's"?

The crotch-kicking trope

When I was briefly teaching in a nearby small town, there was a twisted-up high-school kid whose sole-custody father was itinerant oil-field labor.  One lunch period I saw this unhappy kid systematically kicking in the crotch every boy he could get close to who was smaller.  The victims simply covered as best they could and fled.  They never reported to authorities.  I don't think they told their parents.  They were humiliated.  I took the boy to the principal but she didn’t know what to do and let him go.  Later he brought a gun to school and was expelled.  A mass shooting waiting to happen.

The Bush family is notorious for their connection to Yale secret societies.  They are a frat-ethics sort of family, more interested in power connections and athletics than traditional education, though they are at least literate, unlike the “pussy grabber.”  If girls can be called “the dry herd” of unbred heifers, then the frat boys can be called “the spike herd” which is a stage of development in elk and other ungulates for whom men name their social groups, like moose.  The spike herd gets its name for the single antler tine they sport until they’re able to form a full rack of horns.

Spike elk

The point of antlers is combat.  The spike herd is young bulls who can’t do much damage but need a lot of practice so they can compete against each other to form a breeding herd, the elk equivalent of a family.  It’s not an elitist fantasy that the biggest, boldest, most aggressive bull has the most success, nor is it a pattern for corporate CEO’s whose success might be based on understanding, developing teamwork, and an accumulation of knowledge.  (Trump doesn’t know these factors exist.)  It's a evolved strategy to keep males alive until they're old enough to breed. 

The main herd of cows and calves get impatient with randy young males and throw them out.  This biological imperative causes the spike bulls to form an auxiliary herd or “family” which helps them stay safe while their antlers are the equivalent of a pocket knife.  They spend a lot of time sparring and one-upping each other.  Humans are not different.  Being too weak and passive, or at the other extreme constantly on the fight, will cause ostracism which exposes the individual to much danger.  It’s a social version of homeostasis that keeps behavior within limits of survival until testosterone takes over.

Frat boy ethics can get young men into a lot of trouble, including murder.  Check the newspapers.  It’s not the fact that they are fraternities or even the fondness for drinking (which is at the core of the Elks, Moose, Eagles clubs as well).  It’s that they are the spike herd, an age-stage in the natural course of things, and some guys never grow out of it.  It’s a situation of testing power and skills, which means in human situations also testing ethics.  Frat hazing and so on are meant to test loyalty to the herd, but the results can be tragic if you’re human.  If you're an elk, dinner for someone.

Bull elk in season can't always find another bull to fight no matter how much they bugle, so as an added threat and to keep in shape, they fight trees and brush.  You can hear them thrashing out there if you know how to call elk.  But be careful -- they're as dangerous as politicians.  Sometimes they deliver on their promises.   Often, while they are fighting the bushes, the cows and calves sneak off.

No comments: