Black Widow, the Girl Scouts and the Fonts of Corruption

There were several places in the new Black Widow movie where the director intended to shock us. There’s a missile strike out of nowhere and a main heroic character attempting to murder a child. However, the moment that shocked me the most is the scene where Black Widow mocks a male character for failing to hit her hard enough and, partly to show him how it’s done, breaks the living hell out of her own nose.

At first, I couldn’t explain why this surprised me so much. Even more fundamentally, I couldn’t understand why the feeling immediately following on shock was a sense that I could really, honestly relate to the protagonist. I felt that this female character experienced the world in ways I can directly and easily empathize with.

Thinking this over brought me to a blog post I read from a blogger called “Happiness Between Tails.” According to the blog, the Girl Scouts now accept transgender girls. While I could make something up and present it as justice, progress, a breakdown in family values or whatever, I don’t think that’s productive. Instead, I suggest we can learn a great deal by examining the assumptions that go into the Girl Scouts being for girls but not boys, and the assumptions that go into accepting transgender girls and lesbian girls into the Girl Scouts.

The reasons boys in 2021 are not allowed in the Girl Scouts seem to center around two ideas. First, and obvious, is the possibility that the boys and girls will have sex if they are kept together. This is unacceptable for reasons of girlish purity. Second, and a little less obvious, is the idea that boys are too rough and tough and will push the girls to the background of any activities they do together. Boys are seen as too violent, too assertive, too competitive and too active for the females to endure. This is unacceptable for reasons of girlish fragility.

You probably don’t know what I mean by this talk of sacred purity so let me elucidate. When I used to work at casinos, as a teenager into my early twenties, I dealt with a lot of drunk older women who wanted to party. These ladies’ fingers pretty commonly found their ways inside the elastic of my underwear or tickled along the crease between my butt and thigh. The last time I dealt with the American police, a female officer rubbed her taser between my butt cheeks and whispered into my ear about how much fun she’d have “fucking you up.” Throw in a selection of testicle cuppings and butt slaps and you’ve got a pretty good idea of my career in unwanted sexual advances. I didn’t consent to any of this and, according to the moral trends of 2021 and assuming that gender roles are purely social constructs, I should have felt defiled and objectified etc.

But I didn’t and I don’t. The attention of the drunk ladies with the wandering fingers was kind of flattering and they certainly weren’t going to force me to do anything I didn’t want. The female officer made me angrier than I’ve ever been, but that had nothing to do with the sanctity of my butt and everything to do with the fact that her badge and her gender ensured I couldn’t deliver the beating such disrespect normally warrants. Butt slaps and testicle cupping are kind of exciting in a trashy sort of way. I have never once felt violated or defiled and I think that’s for one simple reason – I am the pollution. As the inherently polluted and active male, there was nothing the inherently pure and passive females could do but ennoble me in the eyes of society at large. At least this explains how I feel and felt, along with explaining why society holds male virgins – those who cannot find a female to purify their innate corruption – in such low regard.

The purity logic holds if we flip the roles as well. If I stick my fingers down the panties of female strangers, rub an unwanted taser between female butt cheeks or cup a stranger’s labia I will, deservedly, go to prison. I, as the inherently polluted and active male, cannot help but denigrate the vessel-of-purity female passivity with these unsanctioned advances. Consider, for example, the meme below.

I got this meme from a fellow writer and it immediately stimulated my curiosity. In it we see how 1990’s style girl-power has receded and morphed into a Victorian conception of the sexes here in 2021. Boys are dangerous walking fountains of contamination that must be trained and cleansed in order to contain their inherent pollution. Girls are vessels of sacred purity and passivity that deserve protection from the dirty and active male world because, if they aren’t, they will surely fall prey to the immensely more powerful, vile ways of boys and men. Which brings us to the next question, how have people in the past handled the dirty males and pure females construction?

Traditionally, there are two ways inherently corrupted males become ritually clean enough to enter the presence of a sacred female. The first is to invite a magician to perform an elaborate ritual, invoking the gods and lawyers, to create a contract both spiritual and legal upon the completion of which the couple can retire to a nearby bedroom and get to the business of knocking boots. We typically call this a marriage and the component parts I list – magicians, rituals, contracts and the ritual protection of the female’s purity – can be found in cultures as diverse as ancient Sumer, the Roman Republic, Han Dynasty China, Vedic India and modern Saudi Arabia.

The second common path to purification for a male was castration. Eunuchs appeared in almost all civilizations including, off the top of my head, bronze age Mesopotamia, medieval Europe, the Persia of Cyrus, China until the 19th century, Korea until the 19th century, the Byzantine Empire for its entire existence, the Turkish Ottoman Empire and the “transgender” hijra tradition of South Asia. The calculus in these instances seems relatively straightforward. The penis is the root of corruption and thus, once you’ve sliced up a male, he ceases to be a threat against the purity of the court ladies.

At first glance, the marriage and eunuch models seem to hold for the Girl Scouts. By separating out the boys, the sacred, fragile girls are preserved in a state of purity. Lesbian girls are also no threat to this because they lack the root of corruption – a dick – and thus operate similar to the eunuchs of old.

But transgender girls, how do we explain that? While it’s true that some transgender folks remove their male equipment, not all of them do and, certainly, very few adolescent or pre-pubescent “transsexuals” – if it’s even possible to know one’s gender identity at 13 – are legally permitted to remove or invert their corrupting penises. The only answer I can think of is that the rituals of transgendered becoming – whatever the Girl Scouts see those as being – are believed to ritually cleanse the corruption of maleness and render the newly minted girls safe for communion with the traditional females.

The transsexuals, for whatever reason, are seen as retiring from the violence and competition of male life. They are seen, for whatever reason, as entering the Victorian lady’s sphere of safe purity. They are being interpreted, for whatever reason, as eunuchs in spite of the fact that almost none of them have been castrated. They are, in a way, being seen as the polar opposites of Black Widow.

Black Widow not only accepts pain and violence, she invites it. She never expects to be treated with deference or shielded from dirty, dangerous and disgusting work. In addition to the previously mentioned broken nose, she intentionally submits to beatings, she allows herself to be objectified as a honeypot trap and to be dangled over open pits. Her motto in the Black Widow film is “your pain only makes you stronger.” She is anti-fragile in exactly the ways the Victorian ladies and the Mattress Girl-types aren’t. She is profaned and contaminated – at least a part of her femininity literally removed – in ways that run the eunuch narrative exactly backwards. There is no purity, there is no ritual protection from the evil world in Black Widow’s story. It’s okay to hit her, to put her in danger, to blame her when when she becomes a victim. She plays by rules that I, as a bearer of pollution myself, can relate to and, in doing so, makes me think the purity and corruption model of Victorian England and modern moral trends might not be eternal. She makes me think that, perhaps, she’d have been a better fit for the Boy Scouts.

10 comments

  1. What of entertainment simply pandering to the lowest common denominator of the shared human experience by vicariously providing a degree of unconscious or sublimated wish fulfillment? Moral and ethical codes, while difficult to enforce, provide a level of certainty and stability to human interaction. Swami Vivekananda was on to something when he said, “the nation that abandons morality will not survive.” On the other hand, this statement can only be proven if and when some nation is effectively governed into perpetuity by whichever moral code the Swami espoused. Some catch, that catch 22.

    1. What kind of lowest denominator and wish fulfillment are you talking about? I ask because I don’t think Black Widow was super high on wish fulfillment – the protagonist goes through hell repeatedly.

  2. thanks much, Ben, for the shout out to my blog 🙂

    1. My pleasure.

      I wonder what you thought of the connection between the Girl Scouts and Black Widow. 🙂

      1. definitely one that takes imagination lol

  3. Testing. I have made attempts to post a comment to this thread using 3 different devices, 1 android and 2 Mac OS. This is the 4th, also a Mac OS. Each time I hit “post comment” my submission has disappeared into the memory hole. Let’s see what happens.

  4. So far, so good. I’m sorry that my original comment was not expressed more clearly. I was not referencing Black Widow exclusively, being unfamiliar with that particular work, but rather commenting about entertainment in general and what could well be considered defining deviancy down to the point that nothing is considered deviant behavior. In today’s America we have censorship of conservative thought on one hand and drag queen story hour for toddlers on the other. BLM and Antifa riot, loot and burn in our cities and when arrested see all charges dropped while hundreds of January 6th protestors are being held, uncharged, in solitary confinement. Ashli Babbitt was in fact murdered by the “good guys”. The United States is, in my opinion, slouching toward dystopia and whether the movement is being led or being followed by the entertainment industry is hard to discern. More to the point of your question, the common denominator, based on redeeming social importance, is clearly lower than in past generations. There seems to be a general lack of uplifting themes in entertainment to counterbalance all the exploding heads. This could simply be the result of entertainment producers following the benjamins or it might be something more sinister, such as a purposeful steering of the cultural norm. Wish fulfillment? As consumers of entertainment we allow ourselves to be taken on a journey through those realms described in the narrative arc. I believe that part of the reason we so readily suspend disbelief is due to a wish to participate vicariously in the unfolding action and be the character we are identifying with without any real world danger or repercussions. At one time we identified with “Mr. Deeds goes to Washington” but now the pendulum has swung to “The Dark Warrior.”

    1. Hey Rick, thanks for clarifying. I’d like to go through your message point by point.

      “1. Defining deviancy down to the point that nothing is considered deviant behavior.”
      I understand why you think this, but I’m not sure it’s true. There are a lot of thing we consider deviant – racism, being a “Karen,” objectifying women etc. In 2001, deviances included insufficient patriotism, defending a Muslim person or being a prude – pretty much the opposite of today. It’s not that “nothing is deviant” in my observation. It’s more that “the moral merry go round is spinning at mach 3 and we’ll have a whole new set of values in 10 years.”

      2. “This could simply be the result of entertainment producers following the benjamins or it might be something more sinister, such as a purposeful steering of the cultural norm.”

      It’s the Benjamins. Films with morally uplifting social messages like the Charlie’s Angels remake and Battlefield Earth tend to be punished by consumers.

      That said, I think there’s an underlying assumption here that people in power are morally/spiritually/whatever inferior to the virtuous common folk. Not only have I seen no evidence for this as I’ve gone from nearly homeless to presenting to think tanks composed of high government officials, my general feeling is that the elites are, on average, better people.

      3. “At one time we identified with ‘Mr. Deeds goes to Washington’ but now the pendulum has swung to ‘The Dark Warrior.'”

      I would blame this squarely on people power. We used to watch Mr. Deeds because we accepted the social hierarchy as generally meritocratic and trust worthy. We now prefer our Dark Warriors because they stand up to those in power. This is based on the assumption that weakness makes you morally good.

      4. “In today’s America we have censorship of conservative thought on one hand and drag queen story hour for toddlers on the other. BLM and Antifa riot, loot and burn in our cities and when arrested see all charges dropped while hundreds of January 6th protestors are being held, uncharged, in solitary confinement.”

      I assume you are referring to the decisions of Twitter etc to ban Trump and his followers. The explanation for this is pretty simple in my mind. First, freedom of speech does not mean private companies have to host speech they dislike. Second, Trump voters represent 47% of the population but only 29% of the wealth. Poor people are less valuable as consumers, especially when they are offensive to the richer parts of society.

      Finally, Fox News is the largest TV news outlet in the US, so I struggle to see how conservative voices have been shut out.

      Drag queens, 3rd wave feminists and the like are pretty easy to interpret as neo-Christian nuns and monks. Seriously, look up Origen, read about the church virgins and tell me they don’t resemble the gender mania going on today. This is also pretty clearly a reaction to the free-love heterosexuality of your generation.

      As for BLM and Antifa, I share your frustration. BLM and Antifa have combined with the Proud Boys to kill a lot of people and destroy a lot of property in Portland, where I have family (and have thus been paying a lot of attention). I assume they’ve been just as pernicious elsewhere. CHAZ was an outrage.

      But the problem here is that the former president attempted at least two and probably three coups and he and his supporters are free as well.

      There’s a very strong case to be made, I believe, that almost everything from 2020 that fell into the hands of giant, multinational corporations or unelected government officials worked really, really well. Anything that fell into the hands of protesters, freedom activists, police unions, elected officials, grassroots movements or representatives of the popular will is currently upside down and on fire.

      Put another way, this isn’t a left-right thing or a black people vs cops thing. Those groups deserve each other. It’s a common people vs elite thing, and I think the elites have performed vastly better.

      I know you already saw this, but here’s my case laid out at length.

      https://bengarrido.com/2021/03/25/the-tragic-heroes-of-2020/

  5. Howdy Ben, here’s hoping your world is treating you well. So much to unpack in your response so let’s begin.

    1. Deviancy. Reading your response, i will concede the point. You sold me with the “moral merry go round”. Morality is a reflection of general consensus and I am guilty of doing the comfortable thing, making judgment based on that which was in vogue during my formative years, many decades ago. We had enforcement of The Mann Act; statutes prohibiting “unlawful cohabitation”; vagrancy laws (think martin B-26, dubbed the Baltimore Whore due to its short wings and “no visible means of support”); schoolgirls taught chastity while the boys sex ed consisted of horror films about VD and lessons on respect for the female gender. The list could go on but the point is that as each of these viewpoints fell they seemed to be replaced by others less interested in preserving cultural cohesion for the sake of freedom to pursue pleasure.

    2. There was time when I would’ve agreed that the entertainment industry is solely driven by the bucks but I longer believe that to be true. On one hand Hollywood’s acquiescence to the Chinese Communist Party in changing content that the CCP deems unacceptable could be due to a desire to protect profits in that huge market but what of the Academy’s new guidelines for what will be acceptable for a film to be considered for awards? Those are straight out of the “Woke” playbook. And Amazon’s new content guidelines? Writers, as well as those in behind the camera occupations, must be of the same cultural background as the subject being written about. Bezos will only accept material that incorporates people from each minority and/or marginalized group. Take that, Godfather franchise. That seems to be following an ideological pursuit rather than a simple quest for profit. Also there is the Ben and Jerry dispute with their owner, Unilever. The chairman of Ben and Jerry’s independent board said that to continue selling product in Israel would violate the companies “social mission.” Further, he stated that Unilever’s attempt to counter the independent board, given that the board consists entirely of women and minorities, was both anti-feminine and racist. No capitalist imperative here.

    3. I’ll split this one with you. Mr. Deeds stood for the concept that the power of government was vested in the people, not the state. This also constitutes standing up to power but doing so within the system. The Dark Warrior teaches that you must step outside the bounds and act without restrictions to protect the helpless masses. Dirty Harry is another example (although one that I did enjoy) of breaking the law in order to further the cause of justice. In a lighter vein I might recommend Joe Pesci’s “Jimmy Hollywood.”

    4. WOW. First of all, thanks for the invitation to revisit Origen. Beautiful place, especially in the area around Grant’s Pass. Seriously, We could spend the day on Origen and still never really scratch the surface. I approach the subject with not mixed but rather blended emotions. First and foremost, nearly everything we know of Origen comes from the writings of Eusebius which date from 50 years after Origen’s death. Most scholars will set the number of Origen’s published works somewhere between 800 and 6000, Eusebius listed just under 2000. Further most scholars will agree that the largest portion of Origen’s work has been lost forever. Over the years I have read varying opinion ranging from that Origen was the greatest Christian scholar in history to the opposite, that he actually held a pagan ideological viewpoint but pandered to the larger potential audience. All that I can say definitively about the subject of history is that history as expressed by someone from their personal experience is never more than 120 years old. Everything else is hearsay and subject to interpretation and revision. Shakespeare is a lot closer to contemporary times and there is disagreement about whether he actually created the works attributed to him and, indeed, whether he even existed.

    You make me realize how intellectually lazy I have become and I thank you. Thought processes, as with muscle mass, need exercise.

    Oh, BTW, I agree with the King of Ai, page 116 of Joshua, on the general subject of “chosen people.” Have a happy (you choose).

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