Thursday, January 15, 2009

You Know What I Love? Responsible Journalism.

Like this charming lede in the New York Times, which does not at all trivialize date rape:
In the new issue of Nature, the neuroscientist Larry Young offers a grand unified theory of love. After analyzing the brain chemistry of mammalian pair bonding — and, not incidentally, explaining humans’ peculiar erotic fascination with breasts — Dr. Young predicts that it won’t be long before an unscrupulous suitor could sneak a pharmaceutical love potion into your drink.
Ah, the power of language: with a single adjective, you can remove "drugging a woman in order to have sex with her" from the realm of vicious crime intended to enforce male domination, police women's sexuality, and keep women scared with the constant, unspoken threat of random, devastating violation at the hands of men and therefore less likely to live full lives or to confront men directly, and turn it into something that might happen on an episode of Jeeves & Wooster. "Why Bertie, I do believe you've date raped me! You unscrupulous cad!"

I say, it was a dashed good scheme, eh wot?


That’s the bad news.

Ha ha, I would say so!
The not-so-bad news is that you may enjoy this potion if you took it knowingly with the right person. But the really good news, as I see it, is that we might reverse-engineer an anti-love potion, a vaccine preventing you from making an infatuated ass of yourself. Although this love vaccine isn’t mentioned in Dr. Young’s essay, when I raised the prospect he agreed it could also be in the offing.
Oh, Science! Is there anything it can't do? It can even inspire this particular dude to write, seemingly from the depths of bummedness, that love is "a dangerous disease" and "a potentially fatal chemical imbalance." JEEZ.

Actually, there are plenty of things Science can't do, or can't do yet, anyway, but this development does at least offer some hope. For example, there might, at some point in the future, be an "actually being friends with your ex, rather than writing each other nice e-mails about Battlestar and then fighting like wolverines every time you are in the same room" potion. Or a "being civil and generous to your boyfriend's ex/your ex's girlfriend because, heck, they didn't do anything you haven't done" drug. Or maybe - just maybe - there could be some sort of very specific medication to keep a man from reciting the lyrics to Ice Cube's gender-theory masterpiece "A Bitch Is A Bitch" in several different conversations just to see you react! ("Now, the title 'bitch' don't apply to all women, but all women got a little bitch in 'em." "OH MY GOD." "But he says it doesn't apply to all women! You're being very unfair! Now: it's like a disease that plagues their character, taking the women of America." "OH SO IT'S A DISEASE NOW IS IT HOW INSIGHTFUL." "It starts with the letter B; it makes a girl like that think she's better than me.") There might even, at some far-distant point in the future, be a "don't put this on the Internet because you can never take it back and also it's kind of stupid" drug. Until then, however, we will all just have to rely on our own finer instincts and act like grown-ups.

So, you know, we're fucked.

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