The key to sexual sadism is the sadist’s belief that his victim needs the rape, grope, incest, assault, slut-shaming, domination, objectivization, catcall, invalidation, humiliation, cop, do, make, feel, frot, fuck.  For “wanting the rape,” we have the mythos of hypersexualized underage Lolitas seducing hapless middle-age men; sexual assault victims wearing (or not) any random article of clothing deemed by male perception as desirable and therefore dangerous are per heteronormative convention “asking for it.” Many Bible Belt zealots affirm that a rape cannot occur without consent, that “good” women have the capacity to “shut down” an attack through pheromonal signals. There is a contract fully executed in the mind of the sadist unknown to most victims, an unfortunately mainstream contract that informs the violence of sexual assault. It is the doctrine of the hybrid female “no”, the No that means Yes in a perversion of the Nietzschean maxim.

And if, to the perp’s surprise, “no” does turn out to mean “no,” male domination in the form of law, custom, or divine writ proclaims that the man may again hear the word “yes.” Because she (the bitch) “had it coming” and deserves punishment through sexual pain. Perceived to be sexual, a state expressly forbidden and demonstrated to the edification of all women by the gruesomely violent deaths of Anna Karenina and Emma Bovary, women deserve to be raped, groped, incested, done, made, even killed. Again, “no” in the male mind, means “yes” and is a hybrid, dually valent noun.

We live in the main in the male mind. In “Brief Interviews with Hideous Men,” David Foster Wallace makes this point in extremis by eliminating the female voice completely. Using the hybrid form of fiction masquerading as the creative nonfiction of an interview series, the “interviews” feature only the answers of men and none of the questions of women. Where an apparent female interlocutor is inferred to speak, only a blank, voiceless capital “Q” appears on the page, furiously followed by a voluminous series of male explanations for versions of rape. The female is absent entirely and only the men speak. What we know of the women in their lives is entirely contained in the men’s minds, through their perceptions, their wants, their desires.

From bondage to emotional abuse, Wallace demonstrates the thrill of non-consent and the balm to conscience of a perceived acquiescence. Ignoring and overcoming the subject’s will while hiding behind a mock or defrauded “yes” is the name of the game. This tension, the hybrid yes-no is encapsulated by Wallace’s sadist who ceremoniously and loquaciously describes how he manipulates female consent to be tied up and then used for nonconsensual ulterior needs. For these hideous yet familiar men, it is licit to obtain yes through manipulation and lies, like Bundy waving a fake broken arm before his murder victims. An informed woman is a woman who might say prevail in saying “no.”

Wallace’s huge and rococo mansplaining in the face of unrestrained male sexual adventurism, and the voiceless trapped abused females, seen only through the eyes of perps, engendered a genuine terror in me. The hybrid interview format contributes to the viscerally frightening reality of these men. This is especially true in Wallace’s interview with the man who falls in love with a woman determined to love and console her serial killer rapist. In exception to the other female objects in the stories, there is a detailed portrait of this woman who achieves the affections of her perp. For only when the female gaze adheres to the requirement of universal compassion and kindness in the face of the most extreme abuse is a woman loveable. Indeed, Wallace’s description of the female orgasm in this interview was akin to death throes. We are to die beaming and bestowing grace.

In the “Hideous” interviews which draw a direct line between the make, the lying about love to a woman in order to use her, to the hatred of a serial killer for women, we never leave the male mind. Sexual violence, physical and emotional, is the main driver of Wallace’s hideous men and they are ubiquitous in their MAGA hats and endowed professorial chairs.  The hybrid form brilliantly depicts the reality of unbridled joy in female pain and the violent convolutions of toxic masculinity.

And was the suicide Wallace a hideous man? I must say I suspected it for a moment in the interview in which a man asserts that a woman who is raped has an important knowledge of herself, a gnosis that is unattainable any other way. The acquaintance is either suspicious or genius. The “Hideous” interviews are a spectrum of sadism, an orgy of perverse male needs, of ratiocinations and hatreds. In this culture of torture and death, women become real by disappearing and dying, emotionally and physically. Need I say that the interview with the perp who “loves” ends with the obligatory chant of BITCH CUNT SLUT DYKE GASH? With hyperrealism, the hybrid interviews depict the imminent threat of death with which all women, if truth be told, live.