Let me first say that the #FHRITP trend is misogynistic and demeaning, and I applaud Shauna Hunt for not being cowered by the men who were harassing her. Shawn Simoes, the ridiculously unlikable man who has been fired from his job after being recorded supporting the #FHRITP trend, is not a popular guy at the moment with good reason, and I doubt he will be able to escape his social media footprint anytime soon. However, I wonder if firing him, though it is completely understandable, will actually address the underlying problem, which is misogyny itself. We have all united in our disapproval of Shawn Simoes, and this has provided us with the illusion that in terminating his employment (in which he earned a substantial salary of $106k, which is always highlighted in the news coverage to emphasize the high level of justice being carried out) all is once right again. But I have to wonder, is all right in the world once again?
We’re all appeased by the outcome: Man says vulgar thing, man is punished. But men do say vulgar things, a lot in my experience, and sexual harassment takes place in nearly every workplace I’ve ever been in or heard of. This is a problem, is it not? Violence against women? Misogyny? Is firing Shawn Simoes going to fix all that? I think French theorist René Girard would argue that it simply calms us back into accepting the culture and the society the way that it is, but leaves it ultimately unchallenged and unchanged. If Simoes is a scapegoat, “scapegoat” does not mean he’s innocent, simply that he’s fulfilling the role of being punished in order for the social order to continue unchanged.
Human beings are fundamentally imitative creatures. We copy each other’s desires and are in perpetual conflict with one another over the objects of our desire. In early human communities, this conflict created a permanent threat of violence and forced our ancestors to find a way to unify themselves. They chose a victim, a scapegoat, an evil one against whom the community could unite.
Again, “scapegoat” does not imply Shawn Simoes is innocent (he’s a jerk, we all agree), but should we, rather than being calmed down by his example, instead be ripping apart the seams of the culture that created him? There are millions who enjoy this degrading meme, and there are millions who are also watching pornography and the brutalization of women which therein informs things. Prostitution, trafficking, rape, the making of women into consumer products, this informs things. Firing Simoes doesn’t address this and can actually serve in the interest of furthering the REAL LIE, the REAL problem, the myth that mysogony is getting less and that women are better off now in our culture simply because they make more money. This affirms our culture, and tells us everything is okay when it’s not (I’m suddenly feeling like the reporter in that scene from Network!).
Shouldn’t we be getting mad instead of celebrating the sacrifice of our scapegoat?