Advice for the Unraped, Before Your Next Press Appearance

[CN: rape culture, sexual assault]


I’ll get to Damon Wayans — and his recent, egregious comments on Bill Cosby — in a moment. I’d like to start with a dim memory of a personal essay I read almost two decades ago.

The essay’s author was a man whose girlfriend had been raped by a stranger in a violent assault and who decides to return with her to the scene of the attack so she can show him, step-by-step, blow-by-blow,  what she endured. He agrees to this, hoping a controlled reenactment will help in her recovery…and fearing what he will discover about himself in the process. In going to this dark place, he worries, will he feel what her rapist felt? Will he be confronted by his own capacity to be a rapist?

Yet during the reenactment, the author comes to understand not “I too could be a rapist” — but “I too could be a victim.”

I still remember this insight as a stunning moment of empathy and vulnerability, all these years later. I’m going to ask you to remember too, because I’ll be coming back to this in a moment.

But first I’m gonna talk about Mr. Wayans.

Sigh.

* * *

(youtube screen capture via)
Damon Wayans being interviewed on Power 105.1’s The Breakfast Club (youtube screen capture via)

In the last five minutes or so of a half-hour interview Wayans did on Friday on Power 105.1’s The Breakfast Club, he was asked to weigh in on Bill Cosby and the nearly 50 women alleging they were sexually assaulted by the comic. If you have seen any reporting on this interview — even if you didn’t read beyond the headline — chances are you have already seen the worst of Wayans’ rape denialism: how the victims are too ugly to be believed. They all look “unrapeable” to him.

Sigh.

Look, if you are filled with umbrage at this comment — if the very idea of using one’s mouth to form the syllables of “unrapeable” raises bile in your throat — I get it. Oh how I get it. If that’s where you’re at today, I’m fully sympathetic.

I’m also tired.

As Kirsten West Savali points out, this is Rape Culture 101-level bullshit, spewed by a “self-proclaimed funny-man in the last gasp of relevancy.” In fact, the whole five minutes could run as a Thought Catalog listicle: 12 Quick and Terrible Ways to Support the Rapists in Your Life — While Undermining Their Victims!  Continue reading “Advice for the Unraped, Before Your Next Press Appearance”

the (un)funny feminist gets her Regency on: Manfeels Park

I laugh because I love.
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a feminist in possession of a news feed, must be in want of a laugh.

Lemme get right to it — I struggle when it comes to understanding funny.

EVIDENCE:

My all-time favorite movie to quote from is this one. I once gave a college boyfriend one of these for Valentine’s Day. (Shoulda known he wasn’t The One when he was too confused to even manage a smirk.) As a kid, my favorite comic books weren’t written in English; and no, I didn’t read French at the time. Nothing has ever made me laugh harder — NOR WILL IT — than Greek gynecology.

My favorite joke goes like this:

Q: How many feminists does it take to screw in a light bulb? 

A:

Q:

A:

Q: …?

A: That’s not funny. 

HIIIII-LARIOUS, no??

[Also has a side benefit of outing undesirables, as in: people who hear that joke and immediately jump in with their own “feminists are just THE WORST, amirite?!!”-brand of humor. Pro-Tip, for that old high school chum I defriended faster than one can say Lucretia Mott: if I’m the one telling a joke on Facebook, it’s unlikely that the punchline actually means “liberated women are stooopid,” mmmkay?]

Back in the Dark Ages of my blogging career, otherwise known as “12½ months ago,” I briefly tried out a recurring feature called the (un)funny feminist: posts wherein I introduced you lovely people to my favorite feminist funnies. And today — finding myself in need of a giggle — I’m bringing it back!

So without further ado, allow me to present: MANFEELS PARK

manfeels_park

Brainchild of Mo and Erin — who describe their creation as “an exercise in flogging a pun for all it’s worth” — Manfeels Park combines line-drawn portraits from Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice (as adapted by the BBC and starring Colin Firth as the Darciest Darcy who ever Darcy’ed) with “web commentary by hurt and confused men with Very Important Things To Explain, usually to women.”

Continue reading “the (un)funny feminist gets her Regency on: Manfeels Park”

‘Scuze me — White Comedy? Your racism is showing. Again.

[CN: sexual assault of young girls, misogynoir.]


POP QUIZ: 

First, take a look at this photograph.

babies
Cute, huh?

Now — which pictured baby would you name “most likely to have a joke about it getting sexually humiliated and assaulted appear as the key element in a new comedy already heralded as potentially ‘the next Seinfeld and executive-produced by a woman lauded for her outspoken feminism“?

[Jeopardy theme music plays briefly.]

If you guessed the Black girlchild in the lavender playsuit, congrats! we have a winner!

Other acceptable answers: the baby most likely to grow up with an 18.8% probability just of reporting being raped (actual risk of assault significantly higher); a 40% probability of experiencing coercive sexual contact by age 18; vulnerable to a higher rate of domestic violence than most other ethnic/racial communities; a disproportionate risk of being killed by an intimate partner; a 4x higher likelihood of being incarcerated than a white woman, at which point her probability of experiencing sexual violence will again increase.

(Or maybe you just went with “baby most likely to enroll in college when it grows up.” That one works too.)

Gentle readers, I am pissed off.

The Deets of Alice’s Frustration

“Difficult People” is a comedy that premiered on Hulu just a few weeks ago. Executive-produced by Amy Poehler — yes, that Amy Poehler — the series stars Julie Klausner (who is also the show’s creator, producer, and writer) and Billy Eincher as NY comedians named “Julie” and “Billy” who both have a penchant for tasteless humor. That “the more taboo the target, the better!”-style of joking.

Get it??! The main characters are just teeeeerrrrrible. (The show is called “Difficult People,” after all.)

Even with only half-paying attention to the first episode, I still noted drive-by snark directed towards: hipsters, fat people, disabled people, gay people, old people, cancer patients, parents of young children, Jews — and all the stick-in-the-mud characters who don’t see humor in such outrageous statements.

Oh. And then there’s this:

At four minutes into the pilot, we get the full hook for a joke about how teeeeerrrrrible Twitter users are, which provides the running gag for the rest of the episode: people tweeting outrageously mean things to Julie in response to an outrageously tasteless joke she herself had tweeted earlier.

The joke? Julie “can’t wait” until Blue Ivy Carter, the 3yo daughter of Beyoncé Knowles and Jay Z, is “old enough” to be pissed on by R Kelly, the R&B singer who was himself raped at age 8 and repeated sexually assaulted as a child and who has an extensive history as an adult (documented on numerous videotapes and in dozens of lawsuits) of committing sexual violence against young teenage girls, including: rapes and other assaults, multiple pedophilic “sexual relationships” lasting a year or more, at least one coerced abortion, and — the best known incident — videotaping a 13 or 14yo girl as he urinated into her mouth and instructed her to call him “Daddy.”

Are we all laughing yet?  Continue reading “‘Scuze me — White Comedy? Your racism is showing. Again.”

One of these questions is more rhetorical than the other.

I’m just not saying which.


Wonder Woman: pop culture's greatest Amazon.  (via)
Pop Culture’s Greatest Amazon (via)

Here’s what I keep wondering about this week:

(1) Why are the most prevalent — and financially lucrative — fantasies produced for women consistently some version of “if I hang around the assh*le who treats me badly LONG ENOUGH, he’ll stop being an assh*le and become the dream lover/boyfriend my mother and I always hoped I’d find”?

[This trope long predates FSoG, obvs. It predates the first Harlequin romance that ever slithered onto land. And the issue is as much about what — and why — women choose to consume as it is about what gets marketed to us; these two factors are always intricately and inextricably related. Duh.]

(2) Given the utter — and annoying — obviousness of Question 1, how is that women have not yet risen up in a violently Amazonian worldwide coup and installed their own matriarchal feminist utopia?

[Please please PLEASE, let this be the plot of the next…uh, I mean FIRST (IF THEY EVER ACTUALLY MAKE ONE) Wonder Woman movie!]


Jeez Louise.

Here’s a key point, though, about all those mega-sales numbers for the FSoG books (and now movie), as Hannah McCann points out: ample evidence suggests that some folks are buying the books to hate-read as ardently as others are to fantasize.

And those hate-readers (plus others) are creating some mighty fine entertainment of their own, in response.

A few of my favorites:

Continue reading “One of these questions is more rhetorical than the other.”

A Very Short Review of this Weekend’s Big Cinematic Release

Alice’s Review:

Fuck this book.

And fuck this movie.

###


Now, some brief contextualizing…

I ran across a meme recently, defending fans of FSoG with a very Wil Wheaton-esque message of “don’t let anyone make you feel bad for loving what you read.” My intent is not to shame anyone for the content of either their bookshelves or their fantasies. I just want to be sure we’re all starting from a common point of understanding.

Simply put: If you find yourself all hot-and-bothered at the thought of “Mr. Grey will see you now,” you are indulging in a fantasy about rape and abuse.

And not a fantasy about BDSM.

As long as you acknowledge that, then you and me? We’re good.

CaaBP = Shame-Free Zone

Plenty of people — both with and without sexual damage in their backgrounds — fantasize about rape and/or abuse. Just like plenty of people who engage exclusively in non-stigmatized sexual behaviors and relationship patterns may (or may not) do so for reasons relating to their own histories of trauma or eff’ed-up family dynamics.

I do strongly recommend, should you and your sexXy funtime partner(s) decide to role-play from this novel, that you follow actual BDSM best practices, including:

  • negotiate the sh!t out of every detail in advance, so that both Dom and sub get their needs met safely and and with fully-informed consent;
  • have a clear safeword explicitly in place before beginning; and finally,
  • provide aftercare like everybody’s life depends on it.

Scenes based on rape or abuse are a pretty extreme form of BDSM play and — like any extreme play — can run the risk of harm to participants if not practiced responsibly. [/public service announcement]

Not that you would know any of this from reading EL James’ book.  Continue reading “A Very Short Review of this Weekend’s Big Cinematic Release”

Happy Birthday, Buffy! or, The Strange Case of the Slayer and the Red Sheets

[Content note: Extreme BtVS fandom]


Riley: What . . . ARE you?
Buffy: Capricorn on the cusp of Aquarius. You?

— BtVS, “Doomed” 

* * * * * *

 Buffy Summers — AKA, Buffy the Vampire Slayer; AKA, The Chosen One; AKA, She Who Hangs Out A Lot in Cemeteries; AKA, Slayer, Comma, The — was born in 1981, on either the 19th or the 20th of January.

Making this the week Buffy turns 34.

(And yes, this also means you now feel very, VERY old. Just in case anyone was wondering.)

scooby gifts

For five of the six complete seasons of BtVS (Season 1 was a mid-season replacement), the last week of January meant an episode dedicated to celebrating the Birth of the Buff. These generally went terribly, terribly wrong.

My favorite Buffy birthday has always been — and shall forever remain — the first Buffy birthday: Season 2’s two-parter of “Surprise” and “Innocence.” (Cliff Notes version for any non-Buffy-addicts who might be reading: these are the episodes in which Buffy and Angel first consummate their relationship. . . and Angel loses his soul as a result.)

I’d like to make a few points about that:

  • That must’a been some damn good sex, to provide a moment of such “true happiness” that it manages to suck out the entire soul of one of the participants.
  • This is hands-down the best solution I’ve ever seen for a TV show which derived its narrative tension, up to this moment, in large part from the “will they? or won’t they?” sexual attraction between two lead characters. [Henceforth to be referred to as “The Sam and Diane Problem.”] Once it’s clear the characters not only WILL, they already HAVE, how to keep the tension and interest alive? Turn one of them into AN UTTERLY EVIL KILLING MACHINE, that’s how! And how better to announce the return of Angelus? Why, send him into an alley to suck smoke directly from the throat of a woman puffing on a cigarette, that’s how!
  • While I understand (and to some extent agree with) Jenny Trout’s point about the sex-shaming aspects of how BtVS treats teenage sex, I want to acknowledge how ground-breaking this season was, in terms of both recreating and challenging the Strong Female Character trope, when it aired 17 years ago. Yes, Buffy gets punished 19 ways from Sunday for sleeping with her boyfriend. But she grieves, deals, and moves on. And when Angel’s soul is restored to him in the final crucial scenes of the season finale, Buffy is still able to get her job done. And save the world by killing her true love and sending him to hell. (Of an apparently pants-free variety, based on how he returns from there, slime-slicked and trou-less, in Season 3.)
#likeaBAWSE
#likeaBAWSE

Personally, I have only one gripe about this season’s birthday episodes. They mark the start of THE DREADED RED SHEET TROPE.
Continue reading “Happy Birthday, Buffy! or, The Strange Case of the Slayer and the Red Sheets”