Are All Men Dogs?

“All men are dogs.” More than one woman has said that to me over the years. They did so matter-of-factly, almost as a confidence, as if I were somehow not a member of the male sex or were being given the benefit of the doubt as an exception.

At first, I thought by “dogs” they meant low-lifes, bastards. When I realized they meant that when it came to women men cared only about sex I confess I was shocked. For one thing, I guess I had supposed males were better at concealing the deeper intentions beneath their wining and dining and witty conversation. I felt a sense of shame as a man at those words, just as I feel a sense of guilt because I’m “white” and privileged at the expense of those who are not, even if I do nothing overtly to claim that privilege.Author: Mood210

Since the first accusations were made against the movie producer Harvey Weinstein, the idea that “all men are dogs” seems all but taken for granted, no longer a statement made only among good friends of opposite sexes. A flood of accusations against not just celebrities and politicians but against sports figures, physicians and just about anyone else has been let loose. And those, of course, are just the malefactors in public life. By what factor do you multiply their number to come up with a figure that matches that of those equally guilty among our neighbors and other ordinary males?

For some reason the behavior of Bill Clinton and more recently the indictment of Bill Cosby and all the news stories over the years about frat-party gang rapes, prominent athletes’ sexual assaults and other newsworthy sexual misconduct did not cause a break in the dam of pent-up feminine anger that the accounts of Weinstein’s behavior has. All of a sudden it’s as if every woman alive has a personal reason to assert that “all men are dogs,” except what they are revealing is far worse than what my female friends seemed to be saying when they used those words. And, indeed, just about every woman does have a story to tell of sexual abuse ranging from being groped on public transportation to date rape, if not something worse.

Are all us men really Harvey Weinsteins but just don’t have the power or the opportunity to do what he did? That’s what’s being asserted by some women. If they’re right, if Tariq Ramadan, a Swiss academic who teaches at Oxford University and speaks regularly in public forums as a voice of moderate Islam, a family man – as unthinkable as a rapist as Bill Cosby had seemed back in his days as “America’s father” – if the likes of Ramadan and Cosby turn out to be sexual criminals, is it not perhaps true that all men are indeed dogs – mad dogs?

But if an entire sex is psychopathic does the word have any meaning? If we men are all mad canines, or most of us, is not madness the norm and hence by definition not aberrant?

I have always maintained that Bill Clinton’s behavior as asserted by his accusers over the decades was pathological. The fact that he, like Cosby and Ramadan and the nice pediatrician or clergyman we would no more suspect of being a child molester than we would our own father, comes across as charming, bright and sincere makes it hard to imagine him forcing himself on a woman. But isn’t this where the sexual abuser and the confidence man merge? They both have to gain some measure of trust in order to place their victims in a vulnerable position. You have to have confidence in someone, especially a stranger, before you turn over your life savings to them for safe keeping. You also need to trust someone, or at least want to trust him, before you go to their hotel room, private yacht, examining room, Oval Office or rectory alone and defenseless. Anyone who tricks another human being into placing that kind of trust in him and then robs, rapes or murders her lacks an essential moral sense. Such a person does not feel and think as a normal person feels and thinks.

But, it’s constantly asserted, it’s all about power, by which is meant the ability to exert one’s will on another’s. I don’t deny that, but does that mean virtually all men, all human beings for that matter, will act in a similarly despicable fashion as have the rogues gallery of sexual monsters who have been outed in the last few months? Make me a CEO or head producer or dermatologist or clergyman and I immediately turn into a potential sexual predator? I don’t think so. I think these men, and perhaps some women as well, are sickos to start with. Ambition drives them to positions of power, and that’s when they get their chance to act on their inclinations. But not every German could be turned into a camp guard in a concentration camp, and some members of the SS were excused from the killing of civilians because they could not bring themselves to do so.

Many people can be brought to act in certain situations as they would not otherwise do,  but only a minority are capable of truly atrocious behavior. Many of the perpetrators we have been hearing about belong in the first group, fewer to the second. It’s a good idea to distinguish between the two without excusing those who are guilty of less heinous offenses while identifying those who are deranged people masquerading as normal. Not all dogs are the same. Not all dogs are even dogs.

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About Thomas J. Hubschman

Thomas J. Hubschman is the author of Look at Me Now, My Bess, Song of the Mockingbird, Billy Boy, Father Walther’s Temptation, The Jew’s Wife & Other Stories and three science fiction novels. His work has appeared in New York Press, The Antigonish Review, Eclectica, The Blue Moon Review and many other publications. Two of his short stories were broadcast on the BBC World Service.

Posted on February 5, 2018, in Social Issues, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Tom, as a woman I agree with what you are saying here a thousand percent. I am one of the great majority of women who can tell my stories of being abused. For many years, I thought I was too good a person to engage in such an abuse of power myself. Then I realized that, as a female, I had the potential myself to exert psychological and even subtle physical control. But I was capable of being a sneaky bitch, because I knew I would usually lose a straight-out physical battle.

    Yes, there is real abuse that occurs. Extremely destructive and cruel. But women are making a terrible mistake if we think we are inevitably the victims and that men are the only sexual or any other kind of abusers. We are just as capable of it as women, only it is often in a different form where we are apt to be more successful — if, indeed “successful” is the word to use in this context.

    • I hadn’t actually given any thought, Terry, to woman as abusers except for the small minority that do so sexually. I assume you’re referring to psychological abuse which, of course, I’m aware of. Only, I suppose I tend to think of that as the weapon of the weak, a kind of guerrilla warfare.

      My readings, especially Michelet’s book on the history of women in Europe which is downright horrifying, along with Virginia Wolfe’s A Room of One’s Own, have been the sort of things that have informed my thinking on the subject. My attitude is something similar, I suppose, to the way we judge members of an oppressed group when they find themselves in a position to oppress others, or simply to act as human beings of all stripes almost always do. They expect to get a pass or at least be judged more leniently because of the past sufferings of their “race” or religion, and they usually get it.

      Women seem to me still to be far from anything like getting fair and just treatment in the society generally. Just how much they are still at the mercy of men has been demonstrated, though only in one way, by the wave of allegations of sexual abuse we’ve seen in the last few months. But male attitudes are still recognizable as tamer versions (or maybe just restrained ones) of what went on in the middle ages under the lords (and ladies) of the manor. I suppose those ladies, independent because of the wealth they controled even as married women, are a good example of what you may be driving at. They not only could give free rein to all their libidinous impulses right under the noses of their lords, they also delighted sometimes in humiliating and otherwise abusing female serfs — mocking them for their having to serve the lord’s pleasure on their wedding night before being allowed to go to their husband’s bed. And, God help any poor woman who caught the eye of a vassal the lady wanted for herself.

      Otherwise, I’m afraid I’m too much enclosed in the male cocoon to see this subject very clearly, Terry.

  2. Tom, thanks for that article. I could not agree more with all you say—hoping that nobody sees me as being “on the wrong side” here. A couple of thoughts on this. Certainly, inter-human abuse has occurred ever since humanity exists (and beyond, but that’s another discussion). The emergence of this topic in public discussions and forums makes me wonder whether changes in our society have made such incidents happen more frequently, or is it just that we start talking about this only now? Then, I completely agree that the #metoo debate is strongly biased and neglects not just the possibility of abuse “the other way around”, but more so the fact that abuse in general is the result of a fundamental flaw in human nature and today’s society (lack of empathy? lack of self-control? Factors in society / today’s life that don’t prevent, maybe even favor such behavior?). I think we are a far cry from being able to address effective prevention of abuse (of any kind), i.e., addressing he abuse on the (potential) violator’s side. In the short & mid-term, education, awareness and self-protection (not with guns, heaven forbid!!!) should be the primary focus. In that sense, while the #metoo debate may go too far in some ways (as so many things that we do), its net effect hopefully is still helpful / moving society into the right direction?

    • I think you’re right, Rolf, to emphasize education, though of course it would have to extend well beyond the classroom to be effective.

      This recent phenomenon of outing sexual abusers in such large numbers dovetails with an idea I heard expressed recently with regard to how something revolutionary occurs at a particular moment as opposed to some other moment. Just before the Bolshevik revolution Lenin was in Switzerland saying there was no chance for an uprising in Russia for at least another year. Such events seem to come to a head or reach a tipping point with few if any people being able to see it happening, though I suppose the idea of a “tipping point” itself presupposes a causality that is opaque rather than unknowable.

      I’m not sure that’s what happens. The abuse of women is not worse now than it was twenty, thirty or sixty years ago. It may even be less so. Why the allegations against Harvey Weinstein suddenly empowered all these women to come forward (just today two White House staff resigned because their ex-wives accused them of physical violence) and not when Bill Cosby was accused or the revolting conduct of Bill Clinton was being exposed, is a mystery. Significantly, Anita Hill, who came forward much against her will to testify against Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas back in 1991, was not taken seriously except by some feminists. But, here’s the kicker: those same feminists defended Bill Clinton and even denigrated his accusers as “white trash.”

      I think, as is the case with the deliberate governmental economic disenfranchisement of African Americans in the 20th century, the Democratic New Deal of the 1930s being the most egregious, the answer, as you suggest, is education. Even our highest judiciary is ignorant of the history of racial segregation and discrimination that was imposed throughout the country by the government de jure. And our history textbooks almost never mention it, though it was done openly and for decades. A similar education in the history of the appalling abuse of women in the West is equally in order.

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