Sex assault claims don’t prove male toxicity, but the absence of masculinity

The signature story to emerge from the accusations of sexual misconduct—it pops up with Weinstein, Mark Halperin, Louis C.K., and others—is men forcing women to watch them masturbate. I hadn’t heard of this practice before, but apparently it’s a top item in the sexual predator’s playlist. Yet how can anything so pathetic be described as “masculinity”?

Sexual assault, the act of a man imposing himself on an unwilling woman, is always a confession of some kind of inadequacy. The attacker implicitly assumes that no woman would be sexually interested in him if she had any choice in the matter. This is actually the not-so-subtle theme of the pick-up artist types, a sleazy manchild subculture that starts from the premise that these guys can’t get any woman in her right mind to sleep with them, so instead they have to practice techniques to deceive and manipulate women. It’s a sliding scale from there to our latest crop of leering assaulters. All of it starts with the kind of man who is unable to achieve gratification in a substantial relationship with an adult woman who accepts him by choice.

That’s true of all forms of sexual assault. But how much more so for these men who force unwilling women to watch them gratify themselves? It says: “I am so worthless I have to physically impose myself on a woman just to masturbate.”