Men have an unhappy habit of flexing their disgruntlement against women in pathetic—but often traumatizing and violent—acts. On Monday two women in Manhattan became victims of a shit-slinging loser who first launched feces into one of their faces and later shoved a bag of excrement down the other's shorts.
Deemed "public enemy no. 2" by the NY Daily News, the man, who turned out to be homeless, was reportedly apprehended after some anonymous sources alerted the police on Thursday. Nauseatingly, there are many other instances of men using literal crap against women. One guy flung a sock of human feces at a woman on a train in Chicago, for instance, and another rubbed poop on his girlfriend's back during a fight.
We're all unfortunately familiar with extreme acts being perpetrated against women, but what might motivate men to use human feces as a weapon against us? Dr. Ronald Levant is a psychologist who has studied men and masculinity for more than 30 years. It is obvious to Levant that the Manhattan attack is a misogynistic act—any kind of female-targeted attack could qualify as that, he says.
The fact that the assailant in this case, and other similar cases, used feces to harm women could be an extreme manifestation of the hateful violence against the female population that is regularly discharged from the prolapsed asshole of hegemonic masculinity.
As a clinical psychologist, Levant says that the use of feces as a "weapon" is "so bizarre" that the first explanation he would expect is psychosis. "Normal, even mildly disturbed people, rarely get involved with feces," he explains. Asking Levant to explain in a general way why someone might engage in this kind of behavior is somewhat futile, he tells Broadly, because such extreme acts are so "idiosyncratic" and highly personal. But Levant did sketch one possibility: Someone might force their poop upon others due to a feces-related trauma in their past.
Read more: The Perils of Pooping While Dating
Noting that the assailant in the Manhattan attack had put feces down his victim's shorts, Levant suggests that there may well be a sexual motivation to his crimes. But scat fetish, or coprophilia, generally does not involve assault. There is nothing inherently sexual about poop attacks in general, Levant told me. During our interview he recalled a similar case from Akron, Ohio, where a man was photographed taking regular dumps on a red sports car, just one of many motor vehicles he defecated upon throughout the area.
Though Levant immediately suspects that feces-related attacks indicate psychosis, he says it's possible someone who isn't clinically insane might attack women in this way. But in order to truly understand why such crimes occur, an expert like Levant would need to conduct standardized tests and hours of interviews with the subject.
Levant stresses the point that this recent attack was, on face value, a misogynistic act and that, because of cultural gender inequality, men sometimes feel an "aggrieved sense of entitlement" to women's sexuality. According to Levant, throwing shit at a random woman's face on the street or shoving a bag of it down her shorts may simply be the "most offensive" form of punishment enforced upon women for not giving men sex.
"Men have to be held accountable for their misogyny if we're ever going to change our culture," he says.